10 Affordable Foods That Make You Age Backwards
By now you know the power of food to help you be as healthy as possible. This Nutrition Bite looks at 10 amazing foods that are powerful tools to hold back the hands of time.
Here are 10 Affordable Foods That Make You Age Backwards
1. BOK CHOY
This leafy green vegetable is high in beta-carotene, which the body converts to vitamin A. Beta-carotene and other carotenoids found in bok choy scavenge free radicals, and vitamin A is essential for the health of the retina and other parts of the eye.
For this reason, foods high in carotenoids may help those who are suffering from – or at risk for – age-related macular degeneration, a disease of the eyes that is a common cause of vision loss in older adults.(1)
Bok choy is part of the cruciferous family of vegetables, which is unique in their content of glucosinolates. When the plant cell walls are disrupted by chewing, chopping, or blending, glucosinolates are converted to phytochemicals called isothiocyanates (ITCs). These phytochemicals have anti-cancer effects, and studies have found a lower risk of cancer in people who eat cruciferous vegetables regularly. (2,6)
Cauliflower is a non-leafy cruciferous vegetable, and its glucosinolates, sinigrin and glucobrassicin, are converted to ITCs, just like the glucosinolates in bok choy. ITCs are most likely the reason for the observation in many studies that consumption of cruciferous vegetables is associated with reduced risk of cancer, as well as death from cardiovascular disease and all causes. (7,9)
In addition, cauliflower is a good source of choline, a B vitamin that is important during pregnancy for its role in brain development. Higher choline intake during pregnancy has been associated with a lower risk of neural tube defects and better visual memory in children at age 7. (10,12)
A raspberry is made up of many tiny bead-like fruits called “drupelets” clustered around a core. Each drupelet contains one seed, and a typical raspberry has 100 to 120 seeds. Red raspberries contain powerful antioxidants such as anthocyanins and ellagitannins, which have protective effects against heart disease, diabetes, and cancer.
In vitro studies show red raspberry extract increases antioxidant enzyme activity within the cells, decreases the activity of pro-inflammatory substances, inhibits DNA damage, and slows the breakdown of starches by digestive enzymes.(13)
Black raspberries have been used in exciting new studies on cancers and precancerous conditions. Black raspberry gel was applied to precancerous lesions in the mouth twice a day for 12 weeks; in the black raspberry group, on average the patients’ lesions showed a reduction in size, whereas in the placebo group, lesions increased in size.
The black raspberry group also experienced a reduction in histologic grade, meaning that the progression to cancer started to reverse.(2) Another clinical trial in patients with colorectal cancer reported a reduction in blood inflammatory markers, plus a reduction in proliferation and angiogenesis markers in the cancerous tissue after patients consumed freeze-dried black raspberry powder three times a day for three weeks.(14) All types of raspberries are longevity-promoting foods with a portfolio of health benefits.
Like watermelons, grapes and blueberries, raspberries do not continue to ripen after they are picked because they are non-climacteric fruit, which means they produce little or no ethylene gas.
Small in size, lentils are big in protecting your health. This is due, in part, to their high micronutrient and high-fiber content. Eating legumes (such as lentils and beans) regularly may lower the risk of heart disease, as these fiber-rich foods are known to reduce cholesterol levels. (15)
Adding lentils to the diet has been found to reduce blood pressure and measures of insulin resistance.(2) The high-fiber content of lentils also limits spikes in blood sugar following a meal. There is also the “second meal effect”: lentils have been shown to reduce blood glucose and food intake not just within the same meal but at the next meal, four hours later.(16) In addition, lentils are also rich in lignins and other antioxidant compounds that have anti-cancer and antidiabetic effects.(17)
Lentils and soybeans have more protein than almost any other plant food. Lentils are also a good source of iron for those eating plant-rich diets. Their plant proteins and other supportive nutrients also protect against muscle and bone loss with aging. They should be in everybody’s diet. They are easy to prepare: Lentils need no pre-soaking, and cook much more quickly than other dried legumes.
Mushrooms are used in the culinary world as vegetables, but they are actually part of the fungi kingdom, which is completely separate from the plant kingdom.
Although they don’t always get the respect they deserve, mushrooms are a superfood. Mushrooms are known for their unique polysaccharides, called beta-glucans, which have immune-boosting effects, thought to protect against infections and cancers.(18,19) Other mushroom components interfere with estrogen production, which is likely why frequent consumption of mushrooms (approximately one button mushroom per day) has been linked to a 64 percent decrease in the risk of breast cancer.(20, 21)
Mushroom phytochemicals also have anti-inflammatory effects that could help prevent cardiovascular disease.(22, 23) In addition, the fiber and potassium content of mushrooms all contribute to healthy blood pressure levels and good cardiovascular health. Mushrooms are rich in the B vitamins niacin and riboflavin, plus in the minerals potassium, iron, copper, and selenium.
Scallions, also known as green onions, are young onions harvested when the bulbs are straight. They are often confused with spring onions, which have a small bulb at the base and are stronger in flavor. They are part of the Allium family of vegetables, which also includes onions, garlic, leeks, chives and shallots.
Onions have beneficial effects on the cardiovascular and immune systems. Epidemiological studies have indicated that increased consumption of onions and other foods in the Allium family, like scallions and garlic, are also associated with a lower risk of gastric and prostate cancers. (24)
The entire scallion, including the stem, leaf and base, can be used raw in salads, added to stir-fries and sauces, or used as a garnish, to add a mild onion flavor to dishes. The onion family has powerful anti-cancer properties, but scallions are special because they not only have the sulfur compounds common to the whole family, but are also rich in minerals and vitamin K, and provide some carotenoids.
7. PINE NUTS
Pine nuts provide significant amounts of protein, vitamin E, and minerals magnesium, zinc, phosphorus, copper, and manganese. Pinolenic acid, a fatty acid derived from pine nuts, was found to reduce appetite in women by increasing secretion of satiety hormones. (25, 26)
Mediterranean pine nuts contain almost 30 percent protein, which is double the protein content of Chinese pine nuts. Mediterranean pine nuts are also one of the richest whole food sources of plant sterols. (27, 28) Plant sterols have a similar structure to cholesterol, and are able to inhibit the re-absorption of cholesterol in the digestive system, leading to excretion of the cholesterol and helping to maintain favorable blood cholesterol levels. (29)
In addition to their cholesterol-lowering properties, higher plant sterol intake has been linked to a lower risk of several common cancers. (30-34)
8. SESAME SEEDS
Sesame, one of the oldest plants cultivated by humans, is believed to have originated in India or Africa, and is now grown all over the world. Tahini, a paste of ground sesame seeds, is a staple in the cuisines of the eastern Mediterranean and Middle East.
These little seeds are a goldmine of health benefits, and are an excellent source of essential minerals such as calcium, iron, manganese, magnesium, selenium and copper. Sesame seeds have the greatest amount of calcium of any food in the world, and provide abundant amounts of vitamin E. Also, black sesame seeds are extremely rich in antioxidants. (35) The healthy fats in seeds and nuts also aid in the absorption of carotenoids when eaten with vegetables.(36)
Note that unhulled sesame seeds are richer in minerals, especially calcium, compared to the more common hulled seeds. Sesame seeds are also one of the few foods (along with flax and chia seeds) that contain lignans, phytochemicals with antioxidant and antiestrogenic properties that are linked to a reduction in breast cancer risk.(37)
Tomatoes are the biggest source of dietary lycopene; a powerful antioxidant that, unlike some other nutrients in fruits and vegetables, is more easily absorbed by the body after cooking. (38, 39)
The antioxidant effects of lycopene help protect the skin from sun damage.40 Lycopene also contains other protective mechanisms, such as anti-inflammatory and cholesterol-lowering actions. (41, 42) Tomatoes are also rich in vitamins C and E, beta-carotene, and many flavonol antioxidants. Additionally, a relationship has been found between eating more tomatoes and a lower risk of certain cancers (especially prostate cancer) as well as heart attack, stroke, and hip fractures. (43-47)
For thousands of years, pomegranates have been used all over the world as medicine, thanks to their healing properties. More recently, pomegranates have been shown in laboratory tests to have antiviral, antibacterial and antioxidant properties. (48, 49)
In the laboratory it was shown that extracts of the juice, rind and oil of pomegranates slowed down the reproduction of cancer cells, and also helped reduce the blood supply to tumors, thereby starving them and preventing them from growing.(50)
Patients with prostate cancer who took pomegranate extract or pomegranate juice daily had slower PSA doubling time, which suggests that pomegranates could help to prevent recurrence of prostate cancer. (51, 52) There have also been studies in humans, suggesting that pomegranate juice protects LDL cholesterol from oxidation (49), and also improves blood pressure and shrinks coronary artery blockages. (53) Research also suggests that the fruit’s potent antioxidant capacity provides protection against cognitive impairment.(54)
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