By Michael A. Smith, MDOur country is experiencing an epidemic of age-related disorders like diabetes, metabolic syndrome and heart disease. And that’s despite the fact that pharmaceutical companies are making billions of dollars treating these disorders. By that’s a story for another time.
So we’ve compiled a short list of 8 awesome foods and drinks that should top every longevity enthusiast’s shopping list. Eat and drink many servings of these health-promoting, disease-fighting foods a day – you have our permission.
Please note: The foods listed in this post are in no particular order and the list is definitely not exhaustive.
Pomegranate is a Super Fruit for the HeartThe pomegranate antioxidants we're most interested in are called punicalagins. These powerful nutrients support your heart by strengthening endothelial cells, the cells lining the inside of your arteries. When healthy, endothelial cells make a lot of nitric oxide which keeps your arteries flexible and helps maintain healthy blood pressure.
Cranberries Prevent Hardening of ArteriesYou probably already know that cranberries are good for supporting a healthy bladder and kidneys. But did you know that they can also support healthy arteries? Well, they can.
Cranberries prevent the influx of calcium into the walls of the artery by inhibiting the production of the hormone osteocalcin.1 When released by the cells lining the inside of arteries, osteocalcin will pull calcium into the artery wall.
This stiffens the artery and can lead to high blood pressure and other problems. But cranberries can stop the whole process. That’s pretty cool and really good for your cardiovascular system.
White Vinegar Limits Post-meal Sugar SpikesWith each major meal, drink 1 ounce of white or apple cider vinegar with 6 ounces of water and a drop or two of stevia for sweetness. Studies show that this can minimize the impact of dietary sugars on blood sugar.2
This is important because high sugar spikes after eating can result in insulin resistance, the hallmark of type 2 diabetes.
Blueberries are Brain FoodBlueberries rank among the highest in their capacity to destroy free radicals. Rich in antioxidants that combat oxidative stress and inflammation, blueberry extracts not only help preserve youthful cognitive function, but also help maintain healthy blood flow via several mechanisms, including maintaining already normal LDL levels and blood pressure within normal limits and preserving endothelial and vascular function.3,4,5
How about a Beet Burger?Give beets a chance! Their deep red color is a tell-tale sign of health and longevity. The classic way to enjoy them is pickled, but the best way to cook them is to grill them and put them between two whole grain hamburger buns. That’s right — the “Beet Burger” is about to take the nation by a gastronomic storm.
The deep red color means that beets are a rich source of antioxidants and can help to reduce oxidative stress – one of the leading theories of aging. Even the very old Dr. Hippocrates advocated the use of beet leaves. He used them to clean wounds. And from the Middle Ages, beetroot was used as a treatment for a variety of conditions, especially illnesses relating to digestion and the blood.
Detox with BroccoliA cruciferous vegetable, broccoli contains isothiocyanates which are reactive sulfur compounds with powerful detox properties. Two of them are sulforaphane and indole-3-carbinol (I3C). These compounds are among the most potent natural inducers of liver detoxification.6
Dark Chocolate Reduces Blood PressureLike all plants, cocoa contains antioxidants widely known as polyphenols. In particular, cocoa is rich in epicatechin, a polyphenol belonging to a class of antioxidants called flavonoids. These powerful compounds can support your heart by reducing risk factors, including high blood pressure.
Coffee is a Good Source of AntioxidantsOxidative stress is one of the leading theories of aging. Environmental toxins are metabolized into highly reactive oxygen compounds known as free radicals. The free radicals can react with normal cellular structures, causing damage and cell death.
This is why antioxidants are so important to us. Antioxidants are beneficial compounds that essentially sacrifice themselves and react with the free radicals, sparing your cells and tissues. So can coffee antioxidants do the same thing? They certainly can.
One coffee antioxidant in particular is gaining in popularity. It’s called chlorogenic acid and it’s been shown to help support blood sugar and maintain a healthy weight.
What would you like to add to this list?
- Eur J Nutr. 2012 Mar 2. [Epub ahead of print]
- Eur J Clin Nutr. 2005 Sep;59(9):983-8.
- Neurobiol Aging. 2005 Dec;26(Suppl 1):128-32.
- J Med Food. 2005 Spring;8(1):8-13.
- Br J Nutr. 2008 Jul;100(1):70-8.
- Altern Med Rev. 2010;15(4):352-362
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