When it comes to aging, there are few antidotes to the wear and tear of the years. However the foods you eat can make a significant difference in the appearance of age – inside and out.
A diet loaded with excess sugar and refined carbohydrates not only leads to extra pounds, but can also cause cross-linking of collagen that leads to premature wrinkling and saggy skin. To maintain your youthful glow, include these anti-aging super foods in your diet.
Blueberries have the highest antioxidant quotient of all the species of berries. Blueberries are anti-bacterial and antiviral - full of special antioxidant molecules (polyphenol) that have been shown to stop replication of the hepatitis C virus. This super fruit also contains another polyphenol, pterostilbene, which has been shown to improve cognition in rodents.
2. Dark chocolate
Made of cacao, dark chocolate contains more antioxidants than almost any other food, including polyphenols like catechin, epicatechin and procyanidins. These strong antioxidants help promote opening of the blood vessels and protects the nerves from injury and inflammation. Cacao also has beneficial effects on satiety, cognitive function and mood. Be sure to choose dark chocolate bars that are minimally processed and have high cacao content, at least 70 percent. Better yet, use the 100 percent powder cacao and mix with coconut oil for a delicious treat.
Broccoli may decrease the risk of certain forms of cancer. It is rich in sulforaphane, a potent antioxidant that protects against free radical damage and carcinogens. Broccoli has a diverse number of nutrients in its raw form; however, to activate the bioavailability of sulphoraphane, broccoli must be gently steamed or blanched.
4. Omega-3 rich fish
Omega-3 fatty acids are the most potent natural anti-inflammatory agents we have. Inflammatory cytokines mediate all forms of disease, therefore increasing omega-3 levels helps overcome damage to your cells that is a result of inflammation in the heart, brain and other tissues.
Almonds have multiple benefits including fiber, alpha tocopherol (a form of vitamin E) and magnesium and Copper. Known medical benefits include lowering cholesterol and blood pressure. Almonds may also play a role in reducing elevated blood sugar levels, making them a great food for fighting diseases and conditions, like metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes. Keep in mind, almonds are high in calories, so moderation is paramount. One serving is approximately 24 almonds.
Tomatoes are rich in lycopene, a plant molecule that has cardiovascular benefits and cancer preventive properties. One of the possible mechanisms is down regulation of the inflammatory response and reducing free radicals.
Garlic contains a potent ingredient called allicin, which is often credited for its notorious health benefits. Garlic has been shown to exert benefits to the cardiovascular system by inducing relaxation of the blood vessels. It acts like a blood thinner to prevent clotting and also improves antioxidant status by lowering levels of free radicals and stimulating the production of glutathione, an important nutrient for detoxification (processing of toxins in the liver).
8. Things to remember
Remember to choose fresh, whole-food products when sprinkling these age-defying foods in your diet. Canned tomatoes, dried garlic or honey-roasted almonds are not going to have as many benefits, if any, as the natural version of the food. With some foods, like broccoli and tomatoes, varying the preparation methods can expose you to more beneficial nutrients that will impact your health and aging.
Dr. Jennifer Landa is Chief Medical Officer of BodyLogicMD, the nation's largest franchise of physicians specializing in bioidentical hormone therapy. Dr. Jen spent 10 years as a traditional OB-GYN, and then became board-certified in regenerative medicine, with an emphasis on bio-identical hormones, preventative medicine and nutrition. She is the author of "The Sex Drive Solution for Women." Learn more about her programs at www.jenlandamd.com.