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Eat your way to a long, healthy life


Fruits and vegetables. Photo: Al Peakes and Sons

The saying that you are what you eat is quite apt especially when it relates to longevity. While certain things about life-and how long we get to enjoy it- are out of our control, emerging nutrition science research shows what, when, and how we eat has a profound influence on how long we live. Below is a compilation of the foods and drinks that will enable you live healthily and long too. Want to eat for a long and healthy life?

Fruits and vegetables
We’ll start with the scientific consensus: A diet rich in fruits and vegetables, high in nutrients and low in calories, is your best bet for a long life. Eat more vegetables- both green and other colours, salads, grapes, and leafy greens. Researchers have found that compounds in these foods pack extra life-extending benefits.

How to prevent heart disease, the largest killer in the United States, according to the latest report from the National Center of Health Statistics? Eat more foods that help keep your heart healthy, like avocados and others already on this list, and improve your odds of a long life. Avocados can lower your LDL “bad” cholesterol while raising your HDL “good” levels, and they help your body absorb heart-healthy vitamins like beta-carotene and lycopene.


Lycopene is also an important nutrient in the fight against cancer- the second leading cause of death in the United States. And there’s no better source than rosy red tomatoes. Eating them cooked, in pasta sauce, tomato soup, or chutney, actually increases the amount of carcinogen-fighting carotenoids your body is able to absorb.

In a 2004 study conducted on elderly people in Australia, Japan, Sweden, and Greece, researchers found that participants had a 7 per cent to 8 per cent reduction in death for every 20 grams of legumes they consumed daily. A diet rich in beans and legumes increases levels of the fatty acid butyrate, which can protect against cancer growth, according to a study from Michigan State University.

Grains, Seeds and Nuts
Getting more fiber- specifically by switching from refined bread and pasta to whole grains-can reduce your risk of death from any cause by 22 per cent, according to a 2011 study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine. Experts say that fiber can protect against diabetes, heart disease, some cancers, and obesity, and can reduce cholesterol, blood sugar, and blood pressure.

Less Red Meat
Going vegetarian a few times a week may lengthen your life. People who eat red meat everyday have a higher risk of dying over a 10-year period than those who eat it less according to a 2009 study from the University of North Carolina. (Most deaths in the study were from heart disease and cancer.) Burgers, steak, and pork were partially to blame, but processed meats-like bacon, ham, and hot dogs-also seemed responsible for shorter lifespans.

More White Meat
In the same study, however, people who ate the most white meat-chicken, turkey, and fish-seemed to have a slightly lower risk of death during the study than those who ate the least.

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Fruits and vegetables
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