Your Ultimate anti-Aging Strategy: Superfoods
By Aaliya Yaqub
UCLA, CA

The brutal truth is that everyone ages.  Have you ever wondered why some age gracefully while others age prematurely?  The answer lies in one's lifestyle. 
Your calendar age is based on your date of birth, but your 'real' age reflects the actual health of your body.  For instance, take Omar, a high power corporate attorney, who smokes, does not exercise, and has a high fat diet.  His calendar age may be 47, but his 'real' age is probably closer to 55. 
On the contrary, there is Maleeha, a real estate professional, who does yoga 5 days a week, and has a diet full of whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables.  Her calendar age is 43, but her 'real age' may be 35 because of the way that she takes care of herself.  Therefore, you should not just count the number of candles on your birthday cake.  Your 'real' age, determined by lifestyle factors, is what really counts. 
Your change to a better, healthier life begins in your kitchen.  Add antioxidant rich foods to your meals and snacks.  Antioxidants fight aging by preventing a process called oxidation which is what damages our bodies over time.  Blueberries are packed with antioxidants because of their dark color.  Other antioxidant rich foods include sweet potatoes, tomatoes, and broccoli. 
Tomatoes contain an antioxidant called lycopene which is particularly beneficial for heart health.  When eating tomatoes, it is helpful to heat them with a little bit of oil because it helps our bodies absorb the lycopene more easily. 

Another antioxidant rich superfood to look out for is the acai, a small fruit grown in the South American rainforest.  It has ten times the antioxidant content of a grape and twice that of a blueberry.  Although native Brazilians have known about its anti-aging properties for generations, it is just making a breakthrough in the States.  You can find the acai fruit in juices, ice cream, and energy bars in local grocery stores, but make sure to read nutrition labels so that you can avoid high sugar, high carbohydrate products.  Your goal should be to incorporate at least five servings of antioxidant rich foods into your diet each day.
Although Americans' number one source of antioxidants is coffee, there are much better beverage alternatives such as green tea.  Another excellent option is white tea.  White tea may seem like a new and exotic beverage, but it has actually been around for thousands of years in China.  White tea comes from the same plant as green tea, but is less processed.  White tea contains buds and young tea leaves which are picked and air-dried.  Ideally, you should drink four or more cups of green or white tea per day.
Another way to stay young and healthy is to consume foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids.  Omega-3's have recently received widespread media attention because preliminary research shows that they may reduce the risk of coronary heart disease and heart attacks.  Omega-3's are found in fish, fish oil supplements, flax seed, walnuts and spirolina algae.
Finally, every well-rounded diet includes 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil in foods like salad dressing or whole wheat pasta.  Remember not to fry foods in olive oil, but rather put the food in the oil first and then into a heated pan.  Olive oil contains healthy fats that, when cooked on high heat, actually get oxidized or damaged and lose their health benefit.
These simple changes to your diet can produce remarkable results in the short and long term.  Armed with these tips, you can slow down the aging process - one meal at a time and begin to feel more energetic.  Healthy eating is a necessary step in your anti-aging plan, but do not forget to exercise and de-stress as well.  Next week, we will continue with exercise tips that can strip years off of your 'real' age.

 

 


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