Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Foods for Healthy Aging

Aging brings with it an increased risk of various diseases including cancer, Alzheimer’s disease and heart disease. Surprisingly, almost a third of elderly people do not get enough essential vitamins and minerals which can exacerbate health issues. Here’s a list of foods that help combat age-related disease.


Flaxseed is a rich source of Omega-3 fatty acids. These nutrients play a role in numerous aspects of the body and are especially helpful at controlling inflammation. Clinical trials suggest that these fatty acids may provide benefits for people with rheumatoid arthritis and multiple sclerosis.


Unlike most plant foods, soybeans are particularly high in protein. Many studies indicate that soy protein may lower LDL (“bad”) cholesterol which has a significant impact on the risk of cardiovascular disease. Soy may also help women during menopause by reducing hot flashes and night sweats.

Whole Grains

Whole grains, such as wheat, oats, and brown rice, are a great sources of fiber. The American Diabetes Association recommends a high-intake of fiber to reduce the risk of developing diabetes and heart disease. Fiber also helps regulate bowel movements which can lessen symptoms of overactive bladder.


Grapefruit is a low-calorie source of vitamin C which is used to help grow and repair tissue. It also acts as an antioxidant which may play a role in cancer and heart disease risk. There is some evidence that regular vitamin C intake before catching a cold may shorten the duration the cold.


Compounds in garlic have been found to provide many health benefits. Several population studies link garlic intake with a significant reduction in cancer risk, however more research is needed. Garlic also plays a role in immune system and may help reduce the severity and duration of a cold or flu.


Avocados are rich in vitamin E and are the richest fruit source of phytosterols. Phytosterol helps lower cholesterol and prevent heart disease while vitamin E boosts the immune system against infection. Avocados may be good for aging adults who are at a higher risk for heart and flu complications.

Dark Chocolate

Cardiovascular disease is one of the leading causes of death worldwide. Luckily, there is mounting evidence that flavonoid-rich dark chocolate may significantly reduce the risk of heart disease (up to 37 percent in one study). The effects were only observed in dark chocolate over 60 percent cocoa.


Fatty-fishes like salmon are great sources for omega-3 fatty acids. One study found that people who ate fish at least once a week were 60 percent less likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease. These fatty acids also play a role in the immune system and may benefit those with multiple sclerosis or RA.


Coffee is one of the greatest contributor of antioxidants in a standard western diet and has been linked with a reduced risk of some cancers and neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s. One study even connected coffee consumption with a reduced risk of MS-related disability.


Blueberries contain the highest concentration of antioxidants of any fruit. Various studies suggested that these antioxidants may help reverse age-related declines in brain activity and health. Additionally, blueberry consumption has been linked with a significant reduction in heart attack risk.


Spinach provides many benefits for aging adults. Carotenoids found in spinach may protect against age-related vision disease such as macular degeneration. There is also evidence that compounds in spinach help combat multiple forms of cancer including breast cancer.

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