While it’s easy to focus on calorie intake as a measurement for weight control, keep in mind that the nutritional quality of what you eat is just as important. Specific nutrients found in foods can provide powerful effects against the aging process.
“Antioxidant” is a catch-all term to describe a compound that provides protection against damage caused by naturally-occurring unstable molecules in the body, commonly known as free radicals. Foods that contain antioxidants halt the free radicals, decreasing inflammation and oxidative stress. Here are a few foods that contain some of the most powerful antioxidants for healthy aging.
Often touted for its beneficial omega-3 fatty acid profile, salmon further has a unique property of containing high concentrations of the carotenoid astaxanthin. This is what creates the natural bright orange-red pigment of the fish. Astaxanthin is a powerful antioxidant that can improve skin complexion, wrinkles, and age spots, providing a bright, healthy glow as it eases inflammation and improves moisture retention.
Other sources of astaxanthin: shrimp, lobster, crab, red trout
We love this Fresh Spinach Salad as a side.
The bright orange spice gets its coloring from the polyphenol curcumin. This antioxidant is known for its ability to manage oxidative stress and inflammation and can therefore help improve symptoms of arthritis, muscle soreness, and exercise-induced inflammation. The bioavailability of curcumin is enhanced in the presence of piperine, the active component in black pepper. For maximum benefits, use both while cooking.
Other sources of curcumin: any sauce or condiment that contains turmeric including Indian and Thai curry sauces, mustard.
The antioxidant found in green tea is derived from the polyphenol known as EGCG (epigallocatechin gallate). There have been studies to suggest that the consumption of green tea is associated with a lowered risk of heart attacks due to its ability to help blood vessels relax, improve endothelial function, and reduce inflammation.
Other sources of EGCG: white and oolong tea, plums, peaches, and kiwi.
The deep-colored berries get their hue from the flavonoid anthocyanin, which has antioxidant effects. The antioxidant capabilities can reduce inflammation as well as reduce the effects from oxidative stress, leading to a reduced risk of developing heart disease while enhancing memory, preventing age-related cognitive decline, and potentially aiding in the prevention of cancers.
Other sources of anthocyanin: cherries, red cabbage, grapes, red wine, and red onion.
What list of the healthiest foods in the world wouldn’t contain this infamous vegetable? There are two important carotenoids in spinach known to improve health outcomes: lutein and zeaxanthin. These polyphenols have been shown to have eye and vision benefits. Research has connected the consumption of foods rich in lutein and zeaxanthin with a reduction in developing macular degeneration and cataracts.
Other sources of lutein and zeaxanthin: kale, Swiss chard, turnip greens, collard greens, Brussels sprouts, broccoli.
If you’re looking for more antioxident-rich foods, check out our list on foods to eat more and less of to make you look and feel younger.
Written by Sarah Lawson, RD, CD – PRO Club Registered Dietitian