Research is showing us that some foods are particularly effective at keeping at bay the body’s aging mechanisms. Many of these superfoods are fruit and vegetables famed for their antioxidant powers—the more of these you can weave into your day, the better you protect body and brain from the ravages of time.


Rewrite your shopping     list A recent report in the British Medical Journal suggested that eating certain key foods every day could boost cardiovascular health and even increase life expectancy by up to  6½ years. The items to keep a ready supply of are vegetables, fruit, garlic, almonds, wine, fish (twice  a week), and dark chocolate.


Graze on grapes         Keep black grapes handy to pick at. The red coloring contains very potent antioxidants effective in maintaining youthful arteries. They are also a source of ellagic acid, associated with cancer-prevention


 Pomegranate power              The succulent seeds and juice of this fruit contain very high levels of antioxidant polyphenols that seem
to protect against many diseases of aging, including ailments of the heart and blood vessels. They also seem to inhibit the growth of prostate and breast cancer cells


 Cultivate peppers           Buy young pepper plants and nurture in pots through the summer ready to harvest in the fall. Like pumpkin and other red, orange,  and yellow fruit and vegetables, peppers contain the carotenoid-betacryptoxanthin, which can  help cut the risk of a precursor disease to rheumatoid arthritis by up to 40 percent. Red peppers contain three times more vitamin C than citrus fruit.


Eat more berries                Eating dark red or purple berries boosts memory function. Blackcurrants and boysenberries are rich in the antioxidant flavonoid-anthocyanins and seem to fight cell and DNA damage, which can contribute to the development of Alzheimer’s and cancer. Blackcurrants, blackberries, bilberries, and blueberries benefit aging eyes and capillary walls, too. Eat fresh berries in season. Out of season try frozen or freeze-dried.


Enjoy nuts          Walnuts are renowned in Chinese medicine as the longevity fruit. As well as snacking on fresh shelled nuts, try using the oil in cooking and salad dressings. Packed with heart protecting antioxidants and fats, walnut oil has a nutty flavor that works well with potatoes and other root vegetables. Peanuts share their cholesterol-lowering properties and are also linked to a decreased risk of heart disease. Eat a handful of almonds each day for their healthy monounsaturated fats, which are associated with a lowered risk of coronary heart disease and stroke.


Snack on seeds           Just a fistful of seeds a day is immensely protective, since they contain protein, useful amounts of minerals and fatty acids essential for joint and prostate health. Add pumpkin, flaxseeds (linseeds), sesame and sunflower seeds to muesli, scatter over salads and keep ready-mixed packets in your desk to dip into when energy levels drop.


Probiotic booster         A pot of organic live natural yogurt each day can help boost immunity. A Swedish study shows those who get a daily dose of the good bacteria, or probiotics, found in live or “bio” yogurt are less likely to call in sick than colleagues who don’t. It’s  also good for digestive health and strong bones. If you find yogurt unpalatable, try drizzling over organic runny honey, adding chopped pistachio nuts, or a spilling of fresh pomegranate seeds.


Eat fish twice a week      Dining on fish two to four times a week reduces the risk of heart disease by 14 percent; eaten just once a week it can slow mental decline by 10 percent a year in older people, studies suggest. As well as providing omega-3 fatty acids, oily fish offer antioxidant selenium, vitamin D, which seems to protect against forms of cancer common in older age, and magnesium, necessary for strong bones. The fatty acids in fish oils also counteract the effects on the heart of air pollutants, which increase risk of heart disease.


Cook with garlic                Valuable for lowering blood pressure, reducing cholesterol, preventing blood clots, and giving the immune system a powerful boost, eating 2–3 cloves of garlic daily can reduce by a quarter the risk of stroke and heart attack. Pound the cloves in a mortar and pestle or slice finely with a knife; in  a garlic crusher cloves can take on a metallic tang. Use garlic fresh in salad dressings or add right at the end of cooking to ensure valuable compounds aren’t destroyed by heat.

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