5 foods to eat if you want to live longer

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Add these disease-fighting foods to your plate to get the best out of your golden years.

By Kasandra Brabaw

You have no control over how long you’ll live – it’s all genetics, right? Not necessarily. Turns out, there are a whole bunch of ways to add years to your life like prioritising exercise, sleep, and stress management.

But perhaps one of the easiest ways is changing what you eat. More and more research is showing that your diet is an important indicator of how long you’ll live, and whether or not you develop a number of life-shortening chronic diseases. Lucky for you, it’s also ridiculously easy to change. Here are five life-lengthening foods to add to your plate today.

Fatty fish

We’ve always thought of fish as brain food – and for good reason. Research shows that compounds in fish called carotenoids can protect against neurological diseases.

Plus, a new study published in The BMJ reinforces that the omega-3s in fatty fish – like salmon, tuna, and sardines – can help you live a longer, healthier life.

After analysing data from more than 2,600 American adults with the average age of 74, researchers from Tufts University found people with higher levels of omega-3s in their blood (meaning they ate at least two servings of fish per week) had an 18 percent lower risk of unhealthy ageing.

That means they were less likely to suffer from chronic diseases (like heart disease and cancer), experience cognitive decline or physical limitations, or have problems living their day-to-day life.

Nuts

Your favourite snack could be adding years to your life. Two large studies from the Harvard School of Public Health both found that the more often people ate nuts, the lower their risk of dying young. In fact, people who ate nuts daily were 20 percent less likely to die from cancer, heart disease, and respiratory disease than those who didn’t.

Why? Nuts are full of nutrients that protect your heart and fight inflammation, such as unsaturated fats, fibre, folate, vitamin E, potassium, magnesium, calcium, and antioxidants like carotenoids and flavonoids, the researchers note.

Worried about the extra calories in that sprinkle of almonds? No need—the researchers found that nuts can actually help you maintain a healthy weight because they’re so satiating. Just be sure to control your portions to a 1-ounce serving.

Whole grains

you out of extra years? Multiple studies have linked whole grain breads, pastas, and more with greater longevity.

According to one study in JAMA Internal Medicine, each additional 1-ounce serving of whole grains eaten correlated to a 5 percent lower overall mortality risk and a 9 percent lower risk of death from heart problems.

The researchers believe that this could be due to the nutrients found in bran, like fiber, B vitamins, vitamin E, magnesium, and phytochemicals. So pay attention to your bread’s packaging; it should say 100 percent whole wheat.

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