10 'Life-Extending' Foods

Foods You Must Eat All The Time

1. Olive oil.

Ample medical research has shown that the benefits of olive oil may go way beyond its wonderful taste. A study by Greek scientists at the University of Athens in 2004 found that this monounsaturated oil, which is rich in antioxidants, may be the key to the healthy Mediterranean diet-meaning a lower risk of heart attacks, diabetes and colon cancers.

2. Garlic.

Used for centuries to ward off everything from vampires to evil spirits, garlic is high in vitamins C and B6, and it contains powerful anti-bacterial and anti-viral agents that help fight common colds and flu. Regular consumption of garlic is also believed to protect against cancer, diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

3. Oily fish.

Oily fish contains omega-3 fatty acids, which are known to be responsible for a range of health benefits, including protection against heart disease, stroke, arthritis and psoriasis. Studies have shown that fish is one of the world's healthiest foods. Fatty fish such as salmon is packed with protein, niacin and Omega-3, an essential fatty acid that promotes healthy cardiovascular activity. Omega-3 may also protect against a host of health concerns from obesity to sunburns. A 2005 study published by the Archives of Neurology claims that eating fish once a week may even slow the rate of cognitive decline.

4. Tomatoes.

Fiber-rich tomatoes are low in calories and high in vitamin C, vitamin A, and cancer-preventing lycopene. Like olive oil, tomatoes are an important part of the Mediterranean diet. Several studies have found tomatoes are also beneficial in fighting various forms of cancer. Fact: although often classified as vegetables, tomatoes are, technically, fruit.

5. Spinach.

Researchers have identified at least 13 different flavonoid compounds in spinach that function as antioxidants and as anti-cancer agents. (Many of these substances fall into a technical category of flavonoids known as methylenedioxyflavonol glucuronides.) The anticancer properties of these spinach flavonoids have been sufficiently impressive to prompt researchers to create specialized spinach extracts that could be used in controlled studies. These spinach extracts have been shown to slow down cell division in stomach cancer cells (gastric adenocarcinomas), and in studies on mice, to reduce skin cancers (skin papillomas). A study on adult women living in New England in the late 1980s also showed intake of spinach to be inversely related to incidence of breast cancer.

6. Tree nuts.

When you feel like snacking, grabbing a handful of nuts is a convenient way to make sure that you get enough protein. Like olive oil, nuts are a great source of heart-healthy monounsaturated oil and antioxidant-rich, bone-strengthening magnesium. Add chopped walnuts or cashews to any salad dish.

7. Avocados.

Avocados are a good source of potassium, a mineral that helps regulate blood pressure. Adequate intake of potassium can help to guard against circulatory diseases, like high blood pressure, heart disease or stroke. In fact, the U.S. Food and Drug Association has authorized a health claim that states: "Diets containing foods that are good sources of potassium and low in sodium may reduce the risk of high blood pressure and stroke”.

8. Apples.

Apple’s two types of fiber pack a double punch that can knock down cholesterol levels, reducing your risk of hardening of the arteries, heart attack, and stroke. Apple’s insoluble fiber works like bran, latching on to LDL cholesterol in the digestive tract and removing it from the body, while apple’s soluble fiber pectin reduces the amount of LDL cholesterol produced in the liver. Adding just one large apple (about 2/3 of a pound) to the daily diet has been shown to decrease serum cholesterol 8-11%. Eating 2 large apples a day has lowered cholesterol levels by up to 16%!

9. Blueberries.

Packed with antioxidant phytonutrients called anthocyanidins, blueberries neutralize free radical damage to the collagen matrix of cells

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and tissues that can lead to cataracts, glaucoma, varicose veins, hemorrhoids, peptic ulcers, heart disease and cancer. Anthocyanins, the blue-red pigments found in blueberries, improve the integrity of support structures in the veins and entire vascular system. Anthocyanins have been shown to enhance the effects of vitamin C, improve capillary integrity, and stabilize the collagen matrix (the ground substance of all body tissues). They work their protective magic by preventing free-radical damage, inhibiting enzymes from cleaving the collagen matrix, and directly cross-linking with collagen fibers to form a more stable collagen matrix.

10. Oats.

A steaming bowl of fresh cooked oatmeal is the perfect way to start off your day, especially if you are trying to prevent or are currently dealing with heart disease or diabetes. Oats, oat bran, and oatmeal contain a specific type of fiber known as beta-glucan. Since 1963, study after study has proven the beneficial effects of this special fiber on cholesterol levels. Studies show that in individuals with high cholesterol (above 220 mg/dl), consuming just 3 grams of soluble oat fiber per day (an amount found in one bowl of oatmeal) typically lowers total cholesterol by 8-23%. This is highly significant since each 1% drop in serum cholesterol translates to a 2% decrease in the risk of developing heart disease. High cholesterol levels correlate with the build up of plaques in blood vessel walls. If these plaques become damaged or simply grow too large, they can rupture, blocking a blood vessel and causing a heart attack, stroke, or blood clots elsewhere in the body. Lowering high cholesterol levels can therefore significantly reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke.

Tim Godfrey is co-author of health weight-loss book, 'Mediterranean Diet Secrets'

To recieve all the latest dieting news and learn more about the book visit: http://www.mediterraneandietsecrets.com

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