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All vegetables contain antioxidants, which help protect cells from free radicals, which play a role in disease and chronic illness. That means no matter what you end up buying from the produce section or farmers’ market, you’re eating with longevity in mind.
Like vegetables, fruit is also high in antioxidants. When you eat fruit, keep the skin on because it contains pectin, which is a soluble fiber that’s good for the gut.
In fact, fiber is another nutrient that’s majorly linked to longevity, and you’ll see it pop up not just in vegetables and fruit, but in other foods on this list too. In terms of specific fruits to add to your diet, blueberries have been shown to be an especially good one because they are high in polyphenols, a type of antioxidant linked to longevity.
When it comes to protein sources, experts say to prioritize plant-based proteins and they especially recommend legumes. Legumes are full of protein, and fiber, and don’t contain saturated fat or cholesterol. They are a staple in regions of the world where people regularly live to be over 100 and in good health, such as Nicoya, Costa Rica; Sardinia, Italy; and Ikaria, Greece.
Experts recommend a diet that includes whole grains such as oats, quinoa, and brown rice because they’re full of fiber and help keep blood sugar levels steady. This helps protect against type two diabetes, and is important because people with two diabetes have a decreased life expectancy up to eight years compared to people who don’t have diabetes.
Remember that link between fiber and longevity? It’s why incorporating flax seeds or chia seeds into your meals because they are especially great sources of soluble fiber, which helps aid digestion and may help reduce cholesterol.
Both experts recommend incorporating nuts into your meals because they have several nutrients linked to longevity including fiber, plant-based protein, antioxidants, and unsaturated fats—which are beneficial for heart health. One easy way to incorporate them into meals is to sprinkle them in your salad.
There’s a reason why gut health is a hot topic in the world of health and wellness; If you want to live a long, healthy life that it’s imperative for your gut to be full of good bacteria. One way to do this is by eating fermented foods, like kimchi, sauerkraut, miso, and tempeh. These foods provide our guts with good bacteria that are linked to helping our overall health.
Vegetables as a category may already be on the list, but this is one that’s worth calling out specifically because it’s so beneficial.
In Okinawa, Japan (a “Blue Zone” where many people regularly live to be over 100 in good health), sweet potatoes make up a full 60 percent of their total calories. Like many foods on this list, sweet potatoes are full of fiber and antioxidants, and they also have 400 percent of the vitamin A needed each day—an important nutrient that benefits the body’s immune system.
While adding all these foods are linked to living a longer life, Polizzi says it’s important to remember that diet is just one piece of the longevity puzzle. Exercising regularly, getting good sleep, and stress management are all important too. But on the food front, it’s important to find ways to eat the foods on this list that you actually like, making good use of the endless cookbooks and online recipe sites. After all, you’ll likely be eating them for a long, long time.
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