Did you know the secret to beautiful, glowing skin might be in the foods that you eat? It’s not uncommon for people to spend hundreds, if not thousands each year on skin care routines, hoping that they may find the secret to maintaining their youthful appearance. While these products might have some effectiveness on keeping age at bay, the better alternative could be putting the right things into your body, rather than slathering nutrients on your skin.
As the saying goes, “You are what you eat.” These thirty foods will help you age gracefully, whether they are promoting skin health or keeping your body and mind in great shape. Plus, with all the different yummy foods with benefits, it’s really easy to incorporate them into your diet for better health.
1. Avocado is Great for Skin, Gut, Brain, and Heart Health
Did you know that an avocado has more potassium than a banana? The American Heart Association has identified potassium as one of those essential minerals that people aren’t necessarily eating enough of. This is important, since potassium helps nerve regulation and getting nutrients to the cell. Plus, potassium is critical in the waste removal process. It helps remove excess sodium from the body through waste, which helps combat high blood pressure.
Avocado is also rich in fiber and healthy monounsaturated fats. Monounsaturated fats like those found in avocado reduce bad LDL cholesterol, which can block arteries and lead to stroke or other health conditions. These healthy fats also encourage skin health. As an added benefit, avocado contains fiber to keep you regular and the compounds lutein and zeaxanthin, which encourage eye health and reduce the risk of macular degeneration.
2. Watercress Fights Wrinkles and Oxygenates the Skin
Oxidative damage caused by free radicals is a major cause of wrinkles. According to a study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, watercress reduces oxidative damage by working as an antioxidant and fighting against these free radicals. Furthermore, it works as an internal antiseptic to cleanse from the inside out and increases circulation. By boosting circulation, watercress also helps deliver important nutrients and minerals to the surface of your skin.
Watercress is also packed full of vitamins, including calcium, phosphorus, manganese, potassium, and Vitamins A, B1, B2, C, and K. In addition to its nutritional value, it’s easy to incorporate watercress into your diet. Use it as a garnish, blend it in a pesto, or stir it into soup.
Legumes are a broad food group that includes lentils, split peas, chickpeas, and all types of beans including kidney, navy, black, and pinto. They are loaded with nutrients, including copper, magnesium, iron, zinc, folate, and calcium. The folate is especially beneficial to the aging mind, since it fights against levels of homocysteine that may cause mental decline and diseases like Alzheimer’s.
Beans also have phytonutrients like phytosterols and saponins. These antioxidants help protect against wrinkles, as well as lower the risk of heart disease and cancer. As an added benefit, legumes are a great source of protein, particularly if you find yourself eating less meat than you once did.
4. Walnuts and Other Tree Nuts Benefit the Mind and Body
Like avocados, walnuts are full of phytochemicals, including polyunsaturated fatty acids. These acids have powerful anti-inflammatory properties that help prevent inflammation in the brain and reduce the risk of cognitive decline and conditions like Alzheimer’s and dementia. Walnuts also contain high levels of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). According to a study in the Journal of Clinical Nutrition, getting adequate ALA prevents heart disease and physical impairment as you age.
There are also benefits of eating nuts in general. Almonds have monounsaturated fats that lower the risk of heart disease and help keep cholesterol in check. Pine nuts also have these fats, as well as Vitamin E and magnesium that are important for heart health. Macadamia nuts are full of fiber that keeps you regular, while cashews contain lutein and zeaxanthin to promote eye health. Finally, pistachios are full of calcium and Vitamin K that are important for bone density, which may decrease as you age.
Honey has been used for its anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties for centuries. The major benefit for skin health comes from its ability to fight inflammation because of the way that it stops the formation of cytokines. Honey also contains trace amounts of potassium, iron, and zinc, among other antioxidants that are good for the body. The antioxidants found in honey help fight inflammation that causes cancer, heart disease, and autoimmune disorders.
The easiest way to incorporate raw honey into your diet is by using it as a sweetener. Stir it in your green tea or coffee, substitute it for syrup on top of your pancakes, or make an almond butter and honey sandwich. As you shop for honey, be sure to buy real honey made by bees rather than clover honey. Clover honey doesn’t have the same benefits.
6. Increasing Water Intake is Essential for Health as You Age
Did you know that as you age, your body takes longer to let you know that you’re running low on fluids? According to the Cleveland Clinic, the elderly are commonly hospitalized for dehydration for this reason. Water does a lot in your body, including lubricating the joints, improving focus, influencing mood, controlling body temperature, and more.
Drinking enough water is essential as you age. ShutterstockWater also benefits the skin. It helps remove toxins from the body and there’s evidence it may improve acne. Water also increases blood flow, helping nutrients get to the skin and keeping healthy and moisturized. Experts at the University of Missouri System recommend women drink up to 9 cups of water per day, and men drink closer to 13 cups. You can also get water from food sources, like cucumbers, zucchini, celery, iceberg lettuce, cauliflower, watermelon, and strawberries.
Blueberries are full of polyphenols, an antioxidant that prevents DNA damage at the cellular level. This reduces your risk of heart disease, cancer, and inflammatory diseases. Blueberries also fight against free radicals that accelerate aging and damage the skin. They have one of the highest levels of antioxidants among fruits and vegetables, which is the reason they are considered a super food.
In addition to antioxidant benefits, blueberries also have benefits for the mind. A 20-year study at Harvard linked consuming berries once or twice a week to significantly less mental decline as a person ages. They actually improve how well brain cells communicate with each other. To get the most polyphenols, it’s best to eat the blueberries raw.
8. Eggs Benefit the Eyes and Help with Tissue Repair
Eggs contain the nutrients lutein and zeaxanthin, two compounds that benefit the eyes. These nutrients are important for stopping macular degeneration that happens naturally with the aging process. Eggs also contain amino acids that are critical to many of the body’s processes. They even help with tissue repair as you get older, healing damage that occurs naturally over time.
Eggs are also a great source of lean protein. Eating enough protein helps maintain bone mass as you get older. Plus, food sources of protein like eggs are easier to digest than protein found in powders and drinks. You can boil eggs and put them on a salad, make an omelet or scramble, or turn them into a yummy quiche.
Olive oil is full of monounsaturated fatty acids that are good for your heart. According to Mayo Clinic, these fats work by lowering risk factors of heart disease. They maintain levels of good HDL cholesterol, while helping lower bad LDL cholesterol. Some studies have also shown benefits for insulin levels and blood sugar control. Some other sources of these fatty acids include canola oil, nut butters, tree nuts, olives, and peanut oil.
For the most benefit, buy cold-pressed virgin olive oil. When olive oil is heated during the manufacturing process, it destroys some of the beneficial fats and nutrients. You can use it when roasting vegetables or searing meat. It also tastes great with balsamic vinegar and some spices on top of a salad or even drizzled on top of soup or pasta as a garnish.
10. Treat Yourself with Antioxidant-Rich Dark Chocolate
The cocoa found in dark chocolate is full of antioxidants called flavonoids that fight against inflammation in the body. It also increases levels of nitric acid, which helps control blood pressure levels and increases blood flow and oxygen delivery. By increasing blood flow, it also helps nutrients get to the skin, giving it a plumper appearance.
Something to keep in mind is that you want to choose dark chocolate that is at least 70% cocoa. It should be made without milk and should not be Dutch-processed or alkali-processed, since that destroys a lot of the beneficial antioxidants. For an extra health boost, have some dark chocolate with almonds.
11. Dairy Food is Essential in Preventing Bone Loss
A loss of bone density is a common side effect of getting older. Severe bone density loss leads to conditions like osteoporosis and increases the risk of fractures. By increasing calcium intake using supplements or food sources, it reduces the risk of bone loss. Dairy foods are a great source of calcium, especially since it’s recommended people over 50 consume at least 1,200mg of calcium daily.
To lower fat consumption, it’s best to get calcium from low-fat dairy sources. While low-fat milk, cheese, and yogurt are all foods people know well for calcium, you can also find it in rice and soy drinks, tofu, and even fortified cereals. Food sources are best when it comes to calcium because the body digests it more easily than it does calcium in supplement form.
Salmon, herring, farmed trout, and albacore tuna are all great sources of DHA, an Omega-3 fatty acid that benefits brain health. While low levels of DHA increases Alzheimer’s risk, eating enough DHA boosts memory and improves your ability to learn new things. This is something that’s important as you age, especially since many people experience natural cognitive decline. As an added benefit, salmon is a rich source of B-vitamins that benefit the brain, too.
DHA also has benefits for the heart. Research shows that fatty fish lowers levels of bad LDL cholesterol and raises good HDL cholesterol, lowering the risk of heart disease and stroke. It also promotes healthy skin and reduces inflammation through the body because of its antioxidant properties. When choosing fish like salmon, responsibly sourced fresh fish is the best choice. Many farm-raised fish are fed pellet food, rather than the nutritious foods they would eat in nature.
Like blueberries, green tea is high in polyphenols that fights damage at the cellular level. In addition to fighting disease like cancer, the polyphenols benefit the skin. They help repair damage caused by sun exposure, environmental toxins, and pollution. Another major benefit of green tea is the component ECGC. It inhibits genes that cause inflammation and even stopped the spread of melanoma cancer in lab tests.
Another study published in “The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition” showed a lower risk of osteoporosis, stroke, and cognitive impairment when participants drank green tea. There were 14,000 participants in the study and the results showed that drinking 3-4 cups per day lowered impairment by 25 percent and drinking more than 5 cups lowered impairment by 33 percent.
As you age, B-vitamins like B6 and folate are essential to brain health. Many cognitive diseases like Alzheimer’s and dementia are caused by a surplus of homocysteine, an amino acid that also raises stroke risk. The many B vitamins found in whole grains help balance levels of homocysteine, reducing the risk of Alzheimer’s, cognitive decline, and stroke.
Another major benefit of whole grains is their high fiber content. As you age, eating enough fiber is essential to keeping things moving along your digestive tract. Fiber also improves blood sugar and cholesterol levels. Healthy blood sugar and cholesterol reduces the risk of heart disease and stroke. Many grain products have whole-grain alternatives and oatmeal, quinoa, and buckwheat are also great sources.
15. Dark, Leafy Greens Benefit the Eyes and the Mind
Eye health is something you’ll want to monitor as you age, especially since it’s common for eyesight to get worse. By eating dark, leafy greens like collard greens, kale, and spinach, nutrients called carotenoids benefit the eyes. They prevent macular degeneration and the development of cataracts. Greens are also a great source of fiber, which is essential for healthy digestion as you age. Plus, their antioxidant properties fight aging and disease.
Some other nutrients in greens include folate and calcium. Folate is a B-vitamin essential to brain health and it keeps your brain cells communicating as you age. Plus, folate has a role in DNA multiplication and repairing the cell. This prevents cancers, including colon, breast, cervical, and lung. Calcium is another essential nutrient as you age, especially since it helps slow and prevent bone loss that happens naturally.
Many red-colored fruits and vegetables like tomatoes get their color from lycopene, a compound that has a lot of benefits for the body. Studies show that lycopene reduces your risk of stroke and the development of some cancers. To get the most lycopene, it’s best to eat cooked tomatoes like those found in tomato paste.
Tomatoes are also great for the skin. They are rich in Vitamin C that fights against damage-causing free radicals. Tomatoes are also hydrating and promote the production of collagen, which locks in moisture. Some studies also show that they protect the skin and help prevent sunburn and other damage to keep you looking young.
17. Greek Yogurt is Rich in Probiotics for Gut Health
Greek yogurt is thicker and has a different flavor than other types of yogurt because it has health bacteria called probiotics introduced to it during the manufacturing process. Probiotics live in the stomach and digestive tract. They play an important role in immunity and the digestive process. By creating a healthier digestive environment, it can also help your body absorb nutrients from your food better.
Greek yogurt is also a great source of calcium and protein, both of which are essential for healthy bones. It also contains B-vitamins and other nutrients, depending on the strain of bacteria. If you don’t like the taste of Greek yogurt, try adding it to a fruit smoothie or topping oatmeal with it. You can also substitute Greek yogurt for sour cream in some recipes.
18. Raspberries Fight Aging of the Skin and the Mind
Raspberries are another of those superfoods that contain powerful antioxidants that come from their red color. The specific antioxidants found in raspberries are anthocyanidins, which are a type of flavonoid. A study published in a Nurse’ Health Study determined that people consuming enough flavonoids experienced a 2 ½ year decrease in their overall cognitive decline as they aged.
For the skin, the strong antioxidants found in raspberries stop damage to the skin caused by sun and environmental factors. By stopping this oxidative damage, they slow the aging process and reduce the development of wrinkles. It is really easy to incorporate raspberries into your diet. Top yogurt with them, eat them raw, or throw them in a salad or smoothie. Your skin and your mind will thank you.
19. Fiber-Rich Foods Improve Blood Sugar and Cholesterol Levels
Fiber is one of those nutrients that people don’t always get enough of in their diet. As you age, however, eating enough dietary fiber helps prevent some of those health problems that become more common. Fiber helps manage your blood sugar and cholesterol levels, which is better for overall health and helps prevent heart disease and stroke.
Furthermore, getting enough fiber in your diet is essential for healthy digestion. Many people experience constipation as they age and fiber helps keep things moving. Harvard Medical School recommends males over 50 consume 30 grams of fiber per day, while females over 50 should try to get at least 21 grams of fiber each day. Fiber is found in a lot of places, so it’s easy to get some into your diet. Some high-fiber foods include oatmeal, nuts, whole grains, and legumes, as well as fruits and vegetables.
20. Sweet Potatoes Benefit the Eyes, Skin, and Immune System
Like carrots, sweet potatoes are rich in beta carotene that the body converts to Vitamin A. It is essential to the health of your eyes and even prevents conditions like cataracts and night blindness. Vitamin A also plays several critical roles in skin health, including normalizing oil production to fight acne, stimulating collagen production, fighting redness, and so much more. As an added benefit, beta carotene stimulates the production of T-cells that fight infection to give your immune system a boost.
Sweet potatoes are also a great source of fiber and potassium. Fiber keeps you regular, while potassium helps with heart function, normalizing blood pressure, and maintaining electrolyte levels. For an extra anti-aging boost, try purple sweet potatoes. Purple sweet potatoes have compounds that slow down age-related changes in the brain.
21. Turmeric Fights Inflammation and Improves Arthritis Pain
Turmeric has potent anti-inflammatory properties that help with inflammation and joint pain that becomes more common as you age. In one study, a group of participants used turmeric for a month. The results showed it to be at least as effective as ibuprofen at treating inflammation and pain. These powerful inflammation-fighting properties also make it effective at fighting free radicals and preventing aging.
Research also shows turmeric can lower the risk of heart disease and improve memory. Aside from its use in more traditional curry, there are a lot of ways you can incorporate turmeric into your diet. Add it to sauces, top roasted vegetables with it, stir it in scrambled eggs, or brew tea with it. There are many other herbs and spices with health benefits you can add to your diet, too.
22. Cauliflower Benefits the Immune System and Brain
Cauliflower is one of those food sources that has a high water content, so it nourishes your body in more ways than one. It also contains sulforaphane that activates immune cells, helping them target toxins and eliminate them from the body. As the body eliminates these toxins, the risk of developing diseases caused by a build-up of these toxins over time also reduces. Eating cruciferous vegetables often enough also lowers your risk of cancer.
Cauliflower also has benefits for the brain. Cauliflower is high in choline, an essential B-vitamin for brain health that has been proven to reduce age-related mental decline. If you don’t like cauliflower, try eating other cruciferous vegetables like broccoli and Brussels sprouts for immune system benefits.
23. Lemons Improve Skin Health and Give an Immunity Boost
Lemons are full of Vitamin C, which is one of those nutrients that your skin needs to stay looking hydrated and nourished. It plays several critical roles in protecting and nourishing the skin. Vitamin C is even involved in the production of collagen, which keeps your skin plump and reduces the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.
One of the best ways to incorporate lemon into your diet is by starting your day with a glass of lemon water. The powerful antioxidant fights against cancer and inflammation through the body and boosts its ability to fight off illness and disease. As an added benefit, lemon water freshens the breath, encourages healthy digestion, and may even help with weight loss. You can learn more about the benefits of drinking lemon water here.
24. Yellow Squash is Low in Calories and High in Nutrients
A serving of yellow squash has just 20 calories, but it’s rich in vitamin A, vitamin C, and several B vitamins including folate, riboflavin, and B6. The B vitamins found in yellow squash can help reduce the slowing of metabolism that is common as you age. It is also full of beta carotene and lutein, which is where the squash gets its color. These nutrients prevent eye conditions like night blindness and cataracts.
Additionally, yellow squash has Vitamin C that fights free radicals. This prevents skin damage from the sun and pollutants and also boosts immunity. Furthermore, yellow squash is hydrating. There are a lot of ways to eat squash. You can roast it, add it to soups, make “noodles” with spaghetti squash for a low-carb dinner option, or steam it.
Even though scallops are small, they pack a powerful punch for heart health. Scallops are full of omega-3 fatty acids that help lower bad cholesterol and raise good cholesterol. They also contain high levels of magnesium and selenium. Magnesium improves circulation and lowers blood pressure by relaxing the blood vessels. Selenium protects the cells from damage because of its antioxidant properties.
Even though scallops are one of those dishes you see in high-end restaurants, they’re actually simple to prepare. Just get a skillet warmed to medium-high heat, add oil, and sear for about 90 seconds to two minutes on each side, depending on the thickness of the scallop.
Red bell peppers contain a high level of carotenoids, a powerful antioxidant that fights wrinkles and helps slow the aging process. Carotenoids are responsible for the bright red, yellow, and orange colors you find in fruits and vegetables. They are also known for their incredible anti-inflammatory properties, which protect the skin from sun damage and damage caused by environmental toxins and pollution. Damage to the skin is a major factor in its appearance as you age.
Furthermore, red bell pepper contains a high level of Vitamin C, which is responsible for stimulating the process that creates collagen. Collagen affects how firm and plump your skin is. Firmer, plumper skin is less prone to wrinkles. Bell pepper can be eaten raw or cooked.
Garlic contains high levels of polyphenols, an antioxidant that fights against free radicals in the body. A study that looked at the age-related reactions to free radicals in the body identified the antioxidants in garlic as being able to prevent cancer, help with inflammation from arthritis, rejuvenate the skin, stop aging of the brain, and more.
In addition to polyphenols, garlic contains allicin. This is where the strong smell and flavor comes from. As the body digests the allicin, it produces one of the most powerful compounds for fighting free radicals, sulfenic acid. This may be the reason that it’s so effective at treating infection and inflammation. As an added benefit, garlic adds a wonderful flavor and aroma when cooked and is an easy addition to a lot of dishes.
28. Prunes, Dates, and Raisins are Rich in Potassium
While bananas are known for their high potassium content, dates, raisins, and prunes all contain more potassium than a banana. As you age, potassium is critical to maintaining bone density. It even helps prevent the breakdown of bones. Potassium also regulates electrolyte levels, maintains a regular heartbeat, manages blood pressure, and reduces stroke risk.
Another major benefit of prunes is their high fiber content. They help keep you regular, which is something that becomes more difficult as you age. They are also full of other nutrients that are good for your body. Try them as is or eat them in some trail mix with some heart-healthy nuts.
29. Tropical Fruits Like Pineapple and Papaya are Rich in Vitamin C
Vitamin C is one of the most beneficial nutrients for your skin. It jump-starts the process to make collagen, which is important for maintaining the structure of the skin. By remaining firm, wrinkles and age are less apparent. Additionally, Vitamin C keeps skin looking healthier by fighting inflammation. As an added benefit, they are both full of digestive enzymes that are good for gut health.
To remain looking youthful, try to give your body a Vitamin C boost at least a few days out of the week. You can make a tropical salad or smoothie, add pineapple to a stir fry for Hawaiian or Asian flavors, or even add pineapple to your pizza. In addition to benefiting your skin, the Vitamin C also fights against disease and gives your immune system a boost.
30. Add Broccoli to Your Diet for Skin and Bone Health
Many people are surprised to learn that a cup of broccoli has 125% of the daily recommended intake of Vitamin C and 250% of the daily value for Vitamin K. The Vitamin C gives broccoli powerful antioxidant properties for the immune system and benefits for the skin. Additionally, the Vitamin K provides the support that bones and connective tissues need to stay strong.
Another major benefit of broccoli is the plant-based ALA, which improves circulation and fights inflammation. It’s also full of fiber. You can eat it raw or cooked a few times a week for the benefits. Add it to a salad or stir fry, make a yummy broccoli and cauliflower soup, or add cheese for a tasty side.