Spinach and other leafy greens are among the top anti-aging foods for women.Did you resolve to eat better in 2012? Good! Harvard Medical School researchers found that women who routinely nibble nutritious foods slash their risk of dying from the usual culprits, including heart disease and cancer. From berries and nuts to salmon and spinach, make sure to include these seven anti-aging powerhouses in your diet.
"They're the cream of the healthy-foods crop," says Elizabeth Somer, R.D., author of Eat Your Way Sexy: Reignite Your Passion, Look Ten Years Younger, and Feel Happier Than Ever (Harlequin) and Age-Proof Your Body (McGraw-Hill).
1. Berries. Ounce for ounce, berries have more protective anti-aging plant antioxidants than almost any other food. "These compounds not only lower your disease risks, they help prevent memory loss," says Somer. Aim for a cup of berries -- any kind, fresh or frozen -- at least three times a week. Since berries are high in filling fiber, they may also help curb weight gain.
2. Salmon. Sure, salmon is a prime source of omega-3 fatty acids, the healthy fats that fend off heart disease and help keep your skin supple. Just 3 ounces of the fish also serves up 170% of your daily vitamin B12 (another nutrient that's good for heart health) and more than 80% of your D (which helps regulate your blood pressure). Aim for two servings a week.
3. Nuts. They're excellent sources of protein, magnesium, and B and E vitamins -- trusty fighters in the war against heart disease and cancer. Yes, nuts are high in fat, but it's the heart-healthy kind. Eat up to five small fistfuls a week (roughly 1/4 cup or about 15-20 almonds, cashews, walnuts, or pecans).
4. Leafy greens. It's almost impossible to meet your nutritional needs without eating dark leafy greens, from spinach and romaine to collard greens, kale, and chard. They're huge sources of fiber; vitamins C and K; folic acid (a B vitamin that guards the heart and memory and fights birth defects); lutein, a vision protector; and four essential minerals: calcium, magnesium, iron, and potassium. Leafy greens also deliver a hefty supply of anti-aging vitamin A, which supports skin-cell turnover to help keep your skin soft and supple. Go for two servings a day -- that's 1 cup cooked greens or 2 cups raw greens -- and the darker, the better.
5. Whole grains. They have up to 96% more fiber, magnesium, zinc, chromium, and vitamins E and B6 than refined grains. Whole grains help prevent the same health problems that refined grains help cause: heart disease, cancer, diabetes, hypertension, and even obesity. Ideally, all of the six of your daily grain servings should be whole, unrefined grains, but aim for at least three. What counts as a serving? One slice of whole-grain bread, a half-cup of cooked grains (such as brown rice or quinoa), or a cup of whole-grain cereal.
6. Golden veggies. Just one serving of fiber-filled, deep-yellow-orange vegetables supplies five times the beta carotene you need daily to lower your cancer risk, defend against colds and other infections, and protect your skin from sun damage. The potassium in these veggies also keeps your heartbeat in sync and your blood pressure down. Aim for two half-cup servings a day, the equivalent of one sweet potato, or a cup of butternut squash or carrots.
7. Yogurt. Low- or nonfat plain yogurt is a terrific source of B vitamins, protein, calcium and -- if it has active cultures -- the healthy bacteria known as probiotics, which crowd out disease-causing germs. Enjoy four or more cups a week, if this is your main dairy source.
Get more health tips from RealAge:See how to get younger in 2012 by taking the RealAge Test today.
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