Maintaining a healthy overall diet is an essential element to remaining healthy as you age. But consuming these five superfoods can kick your physical health and cognitive functioning up to the next level. These delicious foods help reduce the risk of cancer and heart disease, help preserve your vision and improve your skin, boost your immune system, and enhance cognitive functioning. What’s not to like? Our staff nutritionist helps make these recommendations for our residents in our homes. We thought you would like to hear about them as well.
Like other blue or purple-tinted foods like blood oranges, eggplant, and purple potatoes, blueberries are rich in antioxidants that eliminate age-accelerating and cancer-causing free radicals in the body. A study by Tufts University showed that the dark pigment in blueberries (anthocyanins) combat oxidative stress, which is a major contributor to aging. They also found that blueberries can help fight memory loss.
Another study published by City of Hope Hospital suggested that blueberries could also fight the growth of tumors in the body. Since blueberries are a fruit and still contain fructose, eat them in moderation. Eating lots of fructose will cause your insulin levels to spike.
Chocolate loves, rejoice! The cocoa powder used to make chocolate is abundant with flavanoids, which lower the risk of high blood pressure, Type-2 diabetes, and kidney disease. Up to 20% of the compounds in cocoa beans are flavonoids. Studies even support the idea that chocolate can also reduce the risk of dementia. One study from the Sansom Institute for Health at the University of South Australia concluded that people who ate chocolate once a week had better mental performance than those who did not. Dark cocoa drinks have also been shown to improve blood vessel function in diabetics.
Although milk chocolate also contains cocoa powder, dark chocolate contains much more, which makes it more beneficial. Milk chocolate also contains a lot of sugar, which dampens the health benefits. Look for chocolate that has at least a percentage of cocoa/cacao of 70 or higher. The more bitter the better.
Good Fats and Nuts
Good fats, such as olive oil and avocados, contain monounsaturated fats that fight heart disease and cancer, while also promoting brain health. Olive oil is delicious in salads or with pasta. Nuts are rich in unsaturated fats, which protect against heart disease, and Type-2 diabetes. Nuts also protect against age-related memory loss. Have a handful as a snack paired with a glass of red wine, which contains resveratrol that can help slow cellular aging. Avocados are also delicious in salads, in omelets, or as a snack dip. However, nuts, avocados, and olive oil are also high in calories, so consume them in moderation.
Salmon and Other Cold-Water Fish
Salmon and other cold-water fish are rich in Omega-3, an essential fatty acid that the body cannot produce on its own. Omega-3 fatty acids lower bad cholesterol levels. Omega-3 acids also contain cartenoids, which protect eyesight and fight the visible signs of aging. Finally, Omega-3 acids also help decrease brain fogginess. If you have the choice, opt for wild-caught salmon over farmed salmon.
Avoid fish like tuna that are higher on the food chain. As fish eat other fish, their levels of Mercury go up. Tuna are very high on the food chain and contain high doses of Mercury. If you want to supplement your diet with low-food chain food, a high-quality Krill Oil makes an excellent choice.
Tomatoes are packed with lycopene, which protects the body against several types of cancer, including colon, lung, skin, and prostate cancer. Tomatoes also lower the risk of vision robbing macular degeneration and cataracts, as well as reducing the risk of heart disease. Eat them in salads, omelets, or in salsa – or just enjoy them freshly sliced.
Eating these superfoods represents a delicious way of maintaining good health and optimal brain functioning as you age. Eat and enjoy!