Healthy eating and regular exercise are key components to losing weight and staying fit. The benefits of a nutritious diet stretch beyond weight loss. It turns out that incorporating certain ‘superfoods’ into your diet can not only help you shed unwanted pounds, but can have an anti-aging effect.
Eating a nutrient-packed diet can help slow the aging process and perhaps even stave off age-related diseases, including osteoporosis, cancer, diabetes and heart disease. Incorporating anti-oxidant rich foods to your diet helps prevent harm from environmental factors, hydrate your complexion and keep your skin cells functioning properly. So while you’re eating to lose weight, you will also be helping to reduce your risk of life-threatening diseases and staving off signs of aging.
Foods That Promote Anti-Aging
Fish. Fish is an excellent source of niacin, protein, phosphorus and vitamin B6. Sea fare like tuna and salmon contain omega-3 fatty acids, which may help guard against sun damage and reduce chronic skin inflammations, such as eczema and psoriasis. Try to eat at least two four-ounce servings of seafood a week. Besides salmon and tuna, good choices include mackerel, herring, sardines and lake trout.
Whole grains. When you replace white-flour breads, white rice and other refined grains in your diet with whole grains, you immediately reap a benefit. Whole grains are a good source of selenium, a mineral that helps protect against injury from UV rays. Studies have shown that higher concentrations of selenium in the blood were associated with about a 60% lower incidence of non-melanoma skin cancers. Due to their slow digestion rate, whole grains are perfect for preventing diabetes and high blood pressure.
Grains rich in selenium include brown rice, barley, oatmeal and whole wheat. Limit yourself to the recommended three to five servings a day to net the health benefits of the mineral without packing on the calories that can add up quickly with high-carbohydrate foods.
Garlic. The anti-aging properties associated with garlic are primarily attributed to allicin, a natural compound that is produced when raw garlic is crushed or chopped. Allicin is often referred to as one of the world’s most powerful antioxidants. Antioxidants such as allicin inhibit free radical activity, which in turn helps fight wrinkles and fine lines provoked by an overdose of skin-damaging UV radiation. Raw garlic is loaded with vitamin C. While best known for its ability to diminish wrinkle causing free radicals, vitamin C can also prevent pre-mature wrinkling of the skin by supporting healthy collagen production.
Avocados. Avocados are one of the richest sources of monounsaturated fats and contain biotin for healthy skin. Avocados offer nearly 20 vitamins and minerals in every serving, including potassium (which helps control blood pressure), lutein (which is good for your eyes), and folate (which is crucial for cell repair and during pregnancy). Avocados are low in sugar and they contain fiber, which helps you feel full longer. They are a great source of antioxidants; the vitamins and minerals in avocados have been shown to reduce cholesterol and lower blood pressure.
Beans. High in protein, beans promote hair growth and help thicken hair cells by strengthening their fibers. They are a superb source of low-fat protein, especially for vegetarians. In addition, beans such as navy beans, garbanzo beans, lentils and black beans are full of fiber, which assists with lowering cholesterol. Additionally, they are bursting with vitamins and minerals, rich in antioxidants and abundant in vitamin B, iron and potassium. Swap out a meat dish with a protein dish a couple of times a week to help knock out some saturated fat.
Leafy, green vegetables. Broccoli, spinach and kale will keep your skin healthy and hydrated. Green juices are also excellent at helping your body absorb nutrients quickly. Leafy greens contain folate, calcium and various other nutrients that improve bone heath and help avert eye problems that become more common as we age. Diets rich in vegetables like cabbage, Brussels sprouts and broccoli decrease the risk of cancer and memory loss as well.
Dark chocolate. Cocoa beans, from which dark chocolate is produced, along with the intense concentration of antioxidants, reduce inflammation of the skin derived from exposure to UV light. In addition, consuming dark chocolate can improve circulation and increase the skin’s ability to hold moisture, helping the skin to appear younger looking. When indulging in this rich treat, be sure you are eating dark chocolate, and not milk chocolate. The refining process involved in making other kinds of chocolate actually strips away most of the skin-benefitting antioxidant flavanols.
Pomegranate seeds. These seeds contain juice rich in punicalagin and ellagic acid- 2 agents that preserve the collagen in your skin and help fight damage from free radicals. Research has shown that pomegranate’s potent antioxidant capacity provides protection against heart disease, cancer and cognitive impairment. This fruit is also packed with vitamin C, which helps guard against the wrinkling effects of sun damage.
Nuts. Their rich mineral content makes nuts an excellent choice for assisting with managing cholesterol levels, improving digestive functioning and strengthening immunity. In addition, research has discovered that even though nuts are a high-calorie, high-fat food, they do not encourage weight-gain. This is because nuts are filling, and after consumption, people eat less afterwards. In fact, the body does not absorb up to 20% of nuts. Nuts contain selenium, a powerful mineral that aids in the production of antioxidants. Selenium helps repair cell damage and slows the skin’s aging process.
Exercise and nutrition can help you stay fit well into old age. Incorporating these superfoods into your diet will not make you younger or stop you from getting older, but they can improve your overall health and vitality, and protect you against disease and illness, which could prolong your life. Avoid sweets, refined carbohydrates and limit alcohol intake, all of which can make you look and feel older. Overall, one of the best defenses against aging is by eating a well-balanced and healthful diet. Eat right, look better. What can be simpler than that?