The more we learn, the clearer it is that longevity isn't just about our genetic heritage. Instead we can control many of the factors that will influence the quality and quantity of our years with all those small, daily decisions we make about nutrition, fitness, sleep and other health behaviors.
So when we saw the recent study linking vitamin D and calcium supplements to a longer lifespan, it got us thinking. What other nutrients or foods could help improve lifespan? Read on for some tasty items that may just add years to your life.
Broccoli For Cancer Protection
Broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables are full of sulforaphane and other antioxidants that help to protect healthy cells from damage caused by free radicals. But when it comes to the veggies, <a href="http://biohorizons.oxfordjournals.org/content/5/hzs004.abstract" target="_hplink">raw may be better</a>: recent research has found that boiling in water has a "leaching effect."
Whole Grains For Cardiovascular Health
Whole grains offer a variety of antioxidants and vitamins, and are packed with fiber, known to help protect against high cholesterol and regulate blood sugar levels, which can safeguard against diabetes. And one type of whole grain in particular -- oats -- has a unique antioxidant called avenanthramides that can offer additional protection against cholesterol.
Berries For Brain, Bone And Brawn
Not only are berries good for extending life -- they improve the quality of later years. Berries are chock full of antioxidants that help protect against free radical damage, but <a href="http://www.wholeliving.com/136154/10-best-foods-fight-aging/@center/144791/healthy-every-age#/27687" target="_hplink">as <em>Whole Living</em> reported</a>, one antioxidant in particular -- anthocyanins -- is particularly useful for brain function, balance and muscle retention.
Dark Chocolate For Anti-Inflammation
Dark chocolate is full of inflammation-reducing flavonoids, a compound that also has antioxidant properties and helps prevent blood clots. But reducing inflammation is its real longevity trick, as research shows that <a href="http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1568163708000299" target="_hplink">molecular inflammation may be responsible</a> for much aging and cell death.
Tomatoes For Cancer Prevention
Tomatoes are a <a href="http://www.cancer.org/Treatment/TreatmentsandSideEffects/ComplementaryandAlternativeMedicine/DietandNutrition/lycopene" target="_hplink">great source of lycopene</a>, the fat-soluble nutrient that helps to protect against some types of cancer, like prostate, lung and stomach cancers.
Beets For Betaine Power
Beets are rich in betaine, a compound associated with lower markers of inflammation, <a href="http://www.ajcn.org/content/87/2/424.abstract?ijkey=d2ecf26eb2a0aafc362d9252e5e8053315d86059&keytype2=tf_ipsecsha" target="_hplink">according to the latest research</a> in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
Walnuts For Lower Cholesterol
Walnuts are a great source of alpha linolenic acid (ALA), which is a type of omega-3 fatty acid <a href="http://www.theglobeandmail.com/life/health-and-fitness/top-25-foods-for-longevity/article560323/" target="_hplink">associated with reduced inflammation</a>.