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7 Science-Backed Foods for Healthy Aging

Eating right (and exercising) is important, no matter your age. But as you get older, certain foods you choose can go a long a way to helping keep your skin youthful, mind sharp, and reduce your risk of age-related disease. Here are seven foods to help you age healthfully:

1. Berries

7 Science-Backed Foods for Healthy Aging

Whether you prefer them blue or black, sweet like a strawberry or tart as a raspberry, these beautiful fruit jewels are all bursting with a variety of antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and fiber, which can help reduce your risk of cancer and other chronic diseases.

Blueberries, for example, are rich in protective plant compounds that can help fight inflammation.1 Raspberries and blackberries are packed with fiber, which can help with digestive health and may help lower your risk for heart disease and Type 2 diabetes.1,2 And the darker the berry hue, the richer they are in flavonoids like anthocyanins that may help with memory—key to healthy aging.3

Add your favorite berries to yogurt or oatmeal, toss a handful into a smoothie or salad, or check out these tasty ways to enjoy strawberries and cook with blueberries! >

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2. Salmon

Salmon is a key source of omega-3s

It’s all about the omega-3s in this fatty fish. Research suggests consuming omega-3 fatty acids can help keep your heart and eyes healthy and may lower your risk of Alzheimer’s and certain cancers, letting you age healthfully. Other fatty fish include mackerel and tuna, as well as herring and sardines.3,4

Need more reasons to eat salmon? Here are eight of them, plus four simple recipes to get more salmon into your diet! >

3. Spinach

Nutrient-dense spinach has vitamin A and vitamin K

Spinach is among the most nutrient-dense foods, meaning it delivers lots of vitamins and minerals for very few calories; it sets a strong foundation for your health both now and as you age.5 It’s loaded with vitamin A, which is important for normal vision and your immune system.5,6 It’s also a good source of vitamins K, C and E, plus antioxidants that protect against cancer.5 Dark leafy greens may also help improve memory, according to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.3

Enjoy your spinach in a salad or simply sautéed. You can also bake it into a hot spinach and artichoke dip or even work it into your morning flapjacks (!) with this spinach banana pancake recipe. >

4. Nuts

Nuts have anti-inflammatory properties and promote good heart health

You’ve heard eating nuts is good for your heart, but did you realize how essential they are for healthy aging? Research suggests they may reduce bad cholesterol levels, inflammation connected to heart disease and the risk of developing blood clots, according to the Mayo Clinic.7 Walnuts may improve cognitive function, and growing research suggests that consuming nuts and seeds every day can lower your risk of diabetes and heart disease, and may also lengthen your life.3,8

Here are 10 of the healthiest nuts to help you get these and other health benefits. Just don’t go too, well … nuts on nuts. They are high in calories, so limit your portions to two tablespoons per serving.

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5. Avocado

Avocado makes your skin better and reduces your blood pressure

You love it on toast—and your skin loves you for eating it. Studies suggest there’s a beneficial association between avocado consumption and skin health, and they contain a variety of nutrients that may prevent the negative effects of aging and help protect against UV damage.9 Avocados are also rich in potassium, which is especially important as you age: consuming adequate potassium and limiting sodium may lower your risk of high blood pressure.9,2

Learn more about the health powers of avocados (and how to get that pit out) here! > And if you want to try an inspired twist on your avocado toast standard, check out these three recipes Nutrisystem customers are buzzing about. >

6. Red Bell Pepper

Red bell peppers have the vitamin C your body needs to make collagen

This brightly colored veggie is loaded with vitamin C—a nutrient your body needs to make collagen, which helps the healthy aging of your skin by maintaining its elasticity.10,11 And research suggests a higher intake of vitamin C is associated with a lower likelihood of a wrinkled appearance and age-related skin dryness.12,13 Vitamin C also acts as an antioxidant, protecting cells from damage and boosting the immune system.11 Red peppers are also a good source of vitamin A, which helps the heart, lungs, kidneys and other organs work properly.10,6

Want to grow your own peppers at home? Here’s how! >

7. Yogurt

Yogurt is rich in probiotics and calcium

It’s got the calcium your bones and teeth need.2,14 It’s got the protein your muscles need. Some even have the probiotics that your gut and immune system need!14 There’s also research suggesting that yogurt is good for heart health, and eating it as part of a healthy diet can help prevent long-term weight gain.14,15

Choose plain, nonfat or Greek-style yogurt and try one of these nine parfait recipes perfect for every palate! >

*Always speak with your doctor before starting a new diet or making any dietary changes.

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Sources:

  1. https://www.aicr.org/resources/blog/enjoy-the-health-benefits-of-berries/
  2. https://www.eatright.org/health/wellness/healthy-aging/special-nutrient-needs-of-older-adults
  3. https://www.eatright.org/health/wellness/healthy-aging/4-types-of-foods-to-support-memory
  4. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Omega3FattyAcids-Consumer/
  5. https://www.ars.usda.gov/plains-area/gfnd/gfhnrc/docs/news-2013/dark-green-leafy-vegetables/
  6. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminA-Consumer/
  7. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/heart-disease/in-depth/nuts/art-20046635
  8. https://www.health.harvard.edu/nutrition/why-nutritionists-are-crazy-about-nuts
  9. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3664913/
  10. https://www.naturefresh.ca/bell-pepper-faqs-facts/
  11. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminC-Consumer/
  12. https://academic.oup.com/ajcn/article/86/4/1225/4649573
  13. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5579659/
  14. https://health.clevelandclinic.org/is-yogurt-good-for-you/
  15. https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/food-features/yogurt

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