Eat from the Fountain of Youth: 5 Food Groups that Keep You Young

By Janet Brill, Ph.D., R.D., LDN
NABBW’s Healthy Heart Lifestyle Expert

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 and whole grains, legumes and olive oil. 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.

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 fruit 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.

VegetablesChoose 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.

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.

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.

Olive oilMake 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.

Hold back the march of time by filling your plate with fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes and olive oil every day and you will surely endure the passage of time with a renewed youth and vigor.

About the author:

©2011, Dr. Janet Brill Janet Bond Brill, Ph.D., R.D., LDN is author of the new book, “Prevent a Second Heart Attack, 8 Foods, 8 Weeks to Reverse Heart Disease” (Random House/Crown Publishing; 2011; $15.00) and “Cholesterol Down: 10 Simple Steps to Lower Your Cholesterol in 4 Weeks Without Prescription Drugs” (Random House/Crown Publishing; 2006; $13.95). Dr. Brill is a leading diet and nutrition author, educator and practitioner. She consults for the health and fitness industry specializing in cardiovascular disease prevention. She is the nutrition expert for the national television show, The Balancing Act. For more info on her books, please visit: www.DrJanet.com or www.PreventaSecondHeartAttack.com

Dr. Janet is a nationally recognized expert in the field of health, wellness and cardiovascular disease prevention and is frequently sought after by the media as a trusted source of nutrition and fitness information. Janet holds master’s degrees in both nutrition and exercise physiology and a doctorate in exercise physiology. She is a registered dietitian and certified by the American College of Sports Medicine, National Strength and Conditioning Association, and Wellcoaches, Inc.