Global life expectancy currently averages just over 72 years, which is much shorter than many people would prefer. However, most adults could easily alter their life expectancy by modifying their diet. By swapping processed foods for fresh produce, humans could strengthen their immune systems, minimize illness and avoid disease to extend their lifespans and enjoy happier, healthier lives.
If you’re ready to do just that, here are a few foods you should incorporate into your diet as soon as possible.
Spinach, kale, collard greens, arugula and other leafy greens are some of the most nutritious foods on earth. Their vitamin K content can protect your bones from osteoporosis and your organs from inflammatory diseases. High antioxidant levels may also lower your risk of developing skin, breast and stomach cancer.
Use leafy vegetables to make a base for salads or add them to stir-fries, smoothies, omelets, sandwiches and casseroles to up your daily dose of green. You can even substitute romaine leaves for bread to cut carbs and maintain a healthy weight.
Seeds like flax, hemp, sesame and chia provide healthy fats, minerals and antioxidants. These little guys also contain fiber, omega-3 fatty acids, magnesium, zinc and many other nutrients, all of which can prolong your life. Plus, they’re incredibly easy to add to your diet.
Sprinkle them on smoothies, oatmeal, toast, salads, yogurt and cereal to reap the benefits. Some seeds, like pumpkin and sunflower, also make for good snacking. Just remember to choose raw, unsalted varieties to minimize your sodium intake.
If you’re tired of eating regular old apples and oranges, throw a pomegranate into the mix. Pomegranates contain crisp, juicy arils that just happen to have phytochemicals, the most abundant of which is punicalagin. This antioxidant has anti-cancer, cardioprotective and memory-booting properties to help you live healthier longer.
Pomegranate can be a bit tricky to eat, not to mention tart. However, their tangy flavor makes them a perfect addition to salads, oatmeal, grilled meat and smoothies.
Many varieties of seafood can reduce your risk of illness and death. However, salmon is one of the most effective. Eating just two 3-ounce servings of this fatty fish each week can reduce your risk of dying from heart disease by 36%. Plus, you’ll enjoy improved blood vessel function, better memory and lower blood pressure.
Soak up omega-3s and boost immune health by preparing salmon and other seafood a few times per week. Use fish as a substitute for meat to further increase your longevity and cultivate a more sustainable lifestyle.
Tomatoes are an integral part of the celebrated Mediterranean diet, and there are plenty of reasons why. Red fruits like tomatoes contain powerful antioxidants, including lycopene, which can improve heart health and protect against cancer. This element can lower bad cholesterol levels and reduce inflammation to combat Alzheimer’s and weight gain, too.
Cooking fresh tomatoes or serving them with healthy fats like olive oil will boost lycopene-related benefits. Mash them into a paste, turn them into spaghetti sauce or cook them alongside other vegetables to easily incorporate them into your diet.
Like tomatoes, extra virgin olive oil is a key component of the life-prolonging Mediterranean diet. This staple food contains high levels of monounsaturated fats that boost heart health and prevent the progression and onset of Alzheimer’s disease. EVOO’s polyphenol antioxidants will also protect the brain and improve cognitive function as you age so you stay mentally and physically fit.
Substitute olive oil for butter and use it to cook everything from steak to vegetables. Look for flavor-infused oils to add some zing to classic recipes. Alternatively, you can use it for dipping bread and dressing salads.
Green tea might not be a food, but you can certainly incorporate it into your diet. This powerful beverage can add years to your life by increasing your body’s p53 levels. This anticancer protein can protect against prostate and breast cancer, and some scientists are even using it to create advanced chemotherapy, immunotherapy and radiotherapy treatments.
Drink a few cups of green tea or enjoy a matcha latte every morning to reap the benefits of this life-prolonging refreshment. Enjoy it hot or iced and add the liquid to smoothies, yogurt parfaits, chia pudding and even frosting.
Eating fresh, nutritious food is one of the best ways to prolong your life, and it’s never too late to start. Transform your diet and your relationship with food by adopting the mindset of “you are what you eat.” Do you want to feel like a greasy piece of pizza? Of course not! You want to feel like a crisp apple or a bright, zesty lemon. So, start incorporating these foods into your diet today to feel even better tomorrow.
About the Author
Mia Barnes is a health and wellness writer and the editor-in-chief at Body+Mind. She specifically enjoys writing about women’s fitness as well as mental health-related topics. When she’s not writing, Barnes can usually be found reading poetry, taking a dance or cardio class or hiking.