By Dr. Janet Brill
EAT WELL: AGE WELL
What is the secret of staying youthful and aging well? How can we best fight off the toll time takes on our bodies? What many people don’t realize in their quest for eternal youth is that the secret to staving off Father Time lies not so much in that shot of botox, bottle of supplements or on the plastic surgeon’s table but is much more dependent on what is being routinely served on your dinner plate.
The most important step that you can take to fight off the signs of aging is to eat a diet filled with fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, olive oil and a glass of red wine. These anti-aging foods are packed with free radical-scavenging antioxidants. Free radicals are highly damaging unstable molecules that form from normal metabolism.
Damage from free radicals accelerates the aging process and contributes to the development of a host of age-related chronic diseases such as heart disease and cancer. Scientists believe that consuming antioxidants such as Vitamin E and C, beta-carotene and polyphenols, work to neutralize these highly reactive free radical molecules, hence help fight off premature aging.
1. Fruit – choose deeply colored fruits such as blueberries, cranberries, cantalope and red delicious apples. These foods are chock full of anthocyanins and beta-carotene, molecules of red, blue, purple and orange pigments that furnish these eye-catching fruits with their deep colors. Anthocyanins and beta-carotene are powerful antioxidants that help the body defy aging, so make sure to eat an array of eye-appealing colorful fruits that contain the greatest amounts of these health-enhancing nutrients.
2. Vegetables – choose dark green, leafy vegetables such as spinach and kale, high fiber, nutrient-dense foods that are simply loaded with one particular age-defying antioxidant called lutein. Lutein is also helpful in protecting individuals against the development of “age-related macular degeneration,” an incurable eye disease that is the leading cause of blindness in elderly Americans.
3. Whole grains – choose whole grains over refined to reap the health benefits of grains packaged the way Mother Nature intended, and you will also be consuming a wealth of age-defying nutrients. Whole grains are an excellent source of fiber, vitamins and minerals and contain a nice dose of Vitamin E (concentrated in the germ of the wheat kernel). Vitamin E is a fat-soluble vitamin and a powerful antioxidant that has been shown to be highly protective against oxidative stress — a precursor to plaque build-up in the arteries.
4. Legumes – consume beans, peas or lentils on a regular basis and your body will benefit from the fiber, vitamins, minerals and literally hundreds of anti-aging plant nutrients found in the simple bean. Legumes are a complex carbohydrate (energy storing powerhouses), so in addition to being nutrient-dense, they provide a nice steady stream of glucose (or blood sugar) into the bloodstream.
5. Olive oil – make extra virgin olive oil your main fat for cooking and dressing salads and vegetables, and you will be consuming an oil that is loaded with polyphenols — the strong plant antioxidants. Olive oil (as opposed to other oils) contains heart-healthy monounsaturated fat plus the added bonus of health-promoting plant compounds. Just make sure to use the virgin olive oil variety as that is the form that has been scientifically proven to be most beneficial for bestowing health benefits.
6. Red wine – red wine, especially cabernet sauvignon and pinot noir, contain two powerful anti-aging phytochemicals: flavonoids and resveratrol. Just be sure that you drink in “moderation,” (meaning a maximum of one 5 ounce glass a day for women and two per day for men).