Image by the Italian VoiceWe all want to age gracefully, right? I know I do. Whether it’s my skin, eyes, joints, bones, or brain, I want to do everything I can to not only age gracefully, but healthily. Luckily I have some control over the aging process, as my diet plays a huge role in how young I feel on the outside and the inside. Our body is constantly under attack from unstable molecules (a.k.a. free radicals) that are intent on damaging healthy cells. Antioxidants work to defend our cells, and in turn, help slow down the aging process.
What exactly are antioxidants?
Antioxidants are special chemicals in food (mostly plants) that protect our cells and prevent damage from oxidation. Over time, the cumulative effects of oxidation may account for many age-related diseases. Studies show that antioxidants play a role in reducing the free radical cell-damage that causes aging. Plants produce large amounts of antioxidants for their own defenses, so a diet rich in plenty of antioxidant-rich fruits, vegetables, grains, nuts and seeds is a great first step. Below are a few foods I eat regularly to ensure my diet is packed with antioxidants.
Did you know that one cup of blackberries contains the most antioxidants of all the berries tested, beating out blueberries, strawberries, cranberries, and raspberries? Blackberries don’t get as much press as blueberries, but they pack a powerful nutritional punch. If blackberries aren’t your fave, no worries, all berries have antioxidants, so you really can’t go wrong.
It doesn’t take much of this mighty nut to give you tons of age-defying benefits. Rich in omega 3 fats, vitamin E and important minerals, just one ounce daily (only 7 walnuts) can help you sleep better, boost brain power, fight disease, and keep your skin looking and feeling young.
It’s probably no surprise that leafy greens made the list, they are such a nutritional powerhouse, I couldn’t not mention them. If you want to give aging a good kick where it counts, eat your leafy greens every single day! They’re not only low in fat and high in fiber, they are rich sources of vitamins and minerals like folic acid, vitamin C, potassium and magnesium. Leafy greens also contain a host of antioxidants (lutein, beta-cryptoxanthin, zeaxanthin, and beta-carotene) all of which work hard to prevent your cells from oxidative stress.
Although I adore the good ole’ Russet potato, there is a reason why sweet potatoes are my go-to anti-aging spud. Sweet potatoes are super high in antioxidant carotenoids that are precursors to vitamin A. Vitamin A is not only a powerful anti-ager, it can also protect you against certain types of cancer. And there’s really no excuse not to enjoy sweet potatoes; they’re readily available, inexpensive, and delicious.
Studies have shown numerous health benefits of drinking green tea. From improving brain health to fighting cancer, this green liquid is one of the healthiest beverages you can consume. Aside from that, a cup of green tea per day may help you look as young as you feel. Studies show the anti-aging and anti-inflammatory effects of green tea can slow down signs of skin aging, especially from sun damage, laugh lines, and wrinkles.