Nutrients That May Help Promote Longevity
Research has found that certain components of our food may help keep us healthy as we age. What are the top vitamins, minerals and other nutritional compounds suggested by experts, and how can you design a meal plan to help keep yourself healthy?
Vitamins and minerals
Even a modest deficiency of certain vitamins and minerals can affect overall health and may impact life span, a recent research review found. For example, a deficiency in vitamin D has been associated with many diseases related to healthy aging, including cancer, diabetes, heart disease and brain function.
Research has found that a number of vitamins and minerals are vital for healthy aging. They include vitamins C, B12, A, E and K, as well as minerals like magnesium, zinc, calcium, selenium, iron, sodium and others.
Vitamins and minerals affect a variety of essential functions in the body. When limited nutrients are available, researchers say, the body uses the available ones to support health in the short term — meaning long-term functions like repair may come up short.
The good news is that it’s relatively easy to get sufficient amounts of necessary vitamins and minerals, simply by enjoying a nutritious diet. Foods like spinach, tomatoes, citrus fruits, avocados, peas and nuts provide a healthy dose of the vitamins and minerals you need. To get your vitamin D, enjoy a few minutes of daily sunshine.
Additional beneficial compounds
In addition to vitamins and minerals, other components of food also play a role in overall nutrition and longevity. Researchers believe that omega-3 fats, for example, may play a significant role in longer lifespans. Omega-3 fats also are essential for the nervous system and brain, and they benefit the heart by reducing blood pressure and levels of triglycerides.
To get sufficient omega-3 in your diet, consider including fish like salmon, herring, mackerel, anchovies, sardines, halibut. The American Heart Association recommends getting at least two servings of fish each week.
Compounds like lutein, lycopene and beta carotene also may provide benefits that promote longevity. Kale, collards, yellow sweet corn and winter squashes all are good sources of lutein, while foods high in lycopene include grapefruit, cooked tomatoes, sweet red peppers and asparagus. You also can get plenty of beta carotene by eating a variety of colorful produce.
Designing a healthy nutrition program
Understanding nutrition can seem complex, and the constant stream of seemingly contradictory studies can make it seem ever harder to grasp. However, experts note that the basic food groups — fruits and vegetables, nuts, lean meats, fish, healthy fats and whole grains — forms the basis of a healthy diet.
The National Institute on Aging offers tips for creating a healthy eating plan to help keep you healthy, including:
- Focus on nutrient density and include selections from all the food groups.
- Cut back on saturated fats, salt and sugar.
Find ways to incorporate healthier choices into your diet by substituting healthier items. For example, instead of sweetened fruit cookies, try fresh fruit as a snack.
At Edgehill, you’ll enjoy delicious, nutritious, chef-prepared cuisine made with fresh, healthy ingredients. Savor your meals in elegant surroundings, and take time for good conversation and company. To experience our delectable dining program, please contact us today.
Edgehill's wellness program is the envy of other communities.