Updated: July 19, 2018
Foods that are high in nutritional value are considered as dietary superheroes. However, Nutritionists reject the term super foods as that can influence people to place too high an expectation on a limited range of foods.
In reality, a balanced diet and healthful lifestyle is required to fight aging. There are certain foods that are more nutritious than others, and many of them have a protective effect against a range of diseases. Here, are some of the best foods that you may want to consider including in your diet for a happy, healthy life.
Edamame or fresh soybeans are rich in isoflavones, a type of phytoestrogen. These are plant-derived, estrogen-like substances. Isoflavones are known to have anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, anti-cancer, and antimicrobial properties.
Thus, they can help to regulate the inflammatory response of the body, slow down cellular aging, fight microbes, as well as help protect against certain types of cancer.
Edamame are rich in two types of isoflavones which are genistein and daidzein. A study covered last year on Medical News Today found that genistein could be used to improve breast cancer treatment. As lifetime intake of soy has been linked to reduced risk of breast cancer, we should include soybeans in our normal diet.
Soybeans are often sold in snack packs. But they can also be added to a varied range of dishes, from soups to rice-based meals. They can be served as cooked and seasoned on their own, too.
Tofu is a white cheese like product made of soybean curds that has been linked to a wealth of health benefits. Like soy product, it is rich in isoflavones. It is also a good source of protein, and it contains all the essential amino acids that our bodies need to synthesize protein.
Moreover, it is also rich in minerals. These minerals are required to keep our teeth and bones strong and healthy, and also to derive energy. Tofu is a source of calcium, iron, manganese, selenium, phosphorous, magnesium, zinc, and copper.
Eating tofu can make you feel fuller for longer. So incorporating it into your meals may help to prevent overeating. Tofu is often found cooked in typical Eastern Asian dishes. It can be fried, baked, or boiled.
It has high content of beta-carotene and carotenoid that gives its color. The widespread version of this root vegetable best known in its orange variety.
Beta-carotene is converted into vitamin A by our body, which is essential in immune function, vision, reproduction, and cellular communication. As our body cannot produce vitamin A on their own, it must be derived from our diet. This pigment is also an antioxidant that can protect the cells in our body from the aging damage caused by free radicals.
Moreover, foods rich in carotenoids can protect against age related macular degeneration and the vision problem caused by old age. Some varieties of carrots, such as white carrots, do not contain the orange pigment beta-carotene. But they contain falcarinol, a nutrient which have a protective effect against cancer. As raw carrots retain their nutrients, it is the best way to consume to get all benefits. However, there are also ways of cooking carrots that can keep most of their nutrients locked in. We may want to boil our carrots whole if we want them cooked, but still bursting with nutrients. Chopping up the carrots increases the surface area. So more of the nutrients leach out into the water while they are cooked. By keeping them whole and chopping them up afterwards you are locking in nutrients and the taste. So the carrot is better for you all round.
Cruciferous vegetables also known as Brassica vegetables are wide range of green foods, such as cabbage, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, bok choy, radish, and kale. These vegetables contain many vitamins such as C, E, K, and folate, minerals such as potassium, calcium, and selenium, along with carotenoids such as lutein, beta-carotene, and zeaxanthin.
Cruciferous vegetables also contain glucosinolates. the characteristic pungent flavor of these greens comes from the substances glucosinolates. Some glucosinolates have antimicrobial properties and are thought to regulate the stress and inflammation response of the body. Some of them also have anti-cancer potential. Leafy greens, including some cruciferous vegetables such as kale and collard greens, helped to slow down cognitive decline. Adding a daily serving of green, leafy vegetables to your diet may be a simple way to foster your brain health.
Kale, broccoli, and cabbage have also been shown to have a protective effect on heart health, as they are rich in vitamin K.
Cruciferous vegetables are also a great source of soluble fiber, which plays a role in regulating blood sugar levels and diminishing the absorption of fat, thus helping to prevent excess weight gain.
Consumption of meat, particularly red meat and also some kinds of poultry meat could be harmful to our health in the long run. A good alternative for protein in this case is fish, and salmon, which are loaded with many nutritional benefits. Salmon is a good source of protein, and also contains plenty of omega-3 fatty acids, which is beneficial for eyesight. Omega-3 protects against dry-eye syndrome which is characterized by insufficient lubrication of the eyes, that can lead to soreness and blurred vision.
Moreover, omega-3 fatty acids have been associated with brain health and can reverse aging. It has a high potassium content which can prevent the onset of heart disease. Additionally, this type of fish is rich in the mineral selenium, which contributes to the health of the thyroid gland. The thyroid gland helps to regulate hormonal activity and also regulates metabolic processes.
Citrus fruits such as oranges, grapefruit, lemons, limes, clementines, mandarins, and tangerines are recommended from long time for a healthful diet. Because of its high content of vitamin C, which has antioxidant properties, it provides a wide array of health benefits, including reducing inflammatory damage, and fighting infections.
The fruits are also rich in other macro-nutrients, including sugars, dietary fiber, potassium, folate, calcium, thiamin, niacin, vitamin B-6, phosphorus, magnesium, copper, riboflavin and pantothenic acid.
Citrus fruits contain even more organic compounds such as flavonoids, coumarins, and carotenoids that have protective effects against cancer, cardiovascular diseases, and neurodegenerative diseases. Flavonoids that are present in citrus fruits can particularly prevent or delay chronic diseases caused by obesity.
Flavonoids also have anti-cancer potential, and consumption of especially flavonoid-rich citrus fruits has been associated with reverse aging.
Although all of the foods mentioned above are beneficial in fighting aging with their essential nutrients, a balanced, inclusive diet and a healthful lifestyle is also necessary for prolonged lifespan.