It’s time to anti-age your diet, with nutritionist Christine Bailey’s pick of these top ten youth-boosting foods that are good for your body and your waistline.
Salmon and other oily fish, such as sardines, trout and mackerel, are packed with anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids. These essential fats are vital for healthy cell membranes and for keeping your skin looking smooth and soft, as well as maintaining healthy, flexible joints and cognitive function. Since inflammation in the body is linked to the development of chronic diseases, such as heart disease, cancers and diabetes, omega-3 fats are a vital anti-ageing nutrient. Eat tinned salmon or sardines with the bones for a boost of vitamin D, another important anti-ageing nutrient.
How much? Eat three 100g-portions a week (reduce this to two portions a week if you are pregnant or planning to have a baby, because of environmental pollutants sometimes found in fish).
Blueberries, blackberries, blackcurrants, raspberries and red grapes are all packed with powerful antioxidants known as anthocyanidins, including resveratrol, which has been shown to switch on the ‘survival gene’ Sirtuin 1. This promotes DNA repair as well as favourably affecting genes that help programme you for longevity. Anthocyanidins also protect against heart disease, brain damage and cancer.
How much? Eat half a cup of berries daily.
For youthful skin, include foods rich in beta-carotene in your diet, such as carrots and sweet potato. This antioxidant is converted into vitamin A in the body, which not only protects your skin from sun damage, but is also vital for the maintenance of healthy skin. Other top foods include watermelon, cantaloupe melon, kale, broccoli and butternut squash.
How much? Aim to eat one cup of these foods daily.
This is packed with antioxidants, including catechins. Catechins are many times more powerful than vitamins C and E in stopping oxidative damage to cells, including skin cells, so drinking green tea can help to slow down the premature ageing process and maintain youthful skin. Green tea helps lower inflammation and can stop your DNA from being damaged. It may also reduce the risk of neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s.
How much? Drink three to five cups daily.
These are one of the most nutrient-dense food sources of the mineral selenium. In fact, just two Brazil nuts a day will supply your recommended daily intake.Selenium is a powerful antioxidant shown to reduce your risk of cancer, protect the skin from sunburn and reduce your risk of joint inflammation.
How much? Eat two Brazil nuts a day.
Not only a great source of protein, to help you maintain muscle mass as you age, eggs are also rich in phospholipids, particularly phosphatidylcholine, the raw material for building the neurotransmitter acetylcholine that is vital for memory. Choline also helps lower your homocysteine level (a raised level is associated with the development of many chronic diseases).
How much? No more than five to seven eggs a week.
Rich in protective sulphur compounds, including allicin, eating a clove of garlic a day helps to protect your body against certain forms of cancer, including colon cancer and heart disease. Sulphur is also a key mineral for healthy skin and joints.
How much? Eat one clove of garlic daily (raw or cooked).
These little nuggets are one of the best sources of natural vitamin E, an important antioxidant helping to protect your body from free radical damage associated with ageing, including reducing the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. Other nuts and seeds also contain vitamin E.
How much? Aim to eat 30g of seeds daily.
Broccoli, kale, cabbage and romaine lettuce are all rich in B vitamins, including folic acid and B6. These vitamins, together with B12, are important for lowering levels of homocysteine in the body. High levels of homocysteine are associated with cognitive decline, Alzheimer’s disease, heart disease and cancer.
How much? Eat a cupful of lightly steamed or raw leafy greens daily.
Fermented sources, such as miso, tempeh and natto, appear to be most beneficial, but other forms of soy, such as tofu and natural soy yogurt, are also nutrient-rich and an excellent source of phytoestrogens (isoflavones) – phytochemicals that can help reduce symptoms of the menopause, balance levels of oestrogen in the body and may help to reduce the risk of breast and prostate cancer.
How much? Aim for 25-50mg isoflavones daily, which can be found in 100g tofu or steamed edamame beans.