Everyone hopes to live a long and healthy life. To find the secrets of longevity, U.S. researchers studied the dietary habits of people living in areas where the lifespan is exceptionally long. From examining the diets of healthy elderly people in these regions, they identified the following 12 key factors.
1. Eat plenty of vegetables
Healthy elderly people eat a large amount of fresh high-fiber vegetables. Studies show that the most beneficial foods for longevity are fresh dark green leafy vegetables, such as kale, which is packed with antioxidants. For those eating a plate of vegetables every day, the risk of mortality is reduced to half as compared with those who do not.
2. Avoid red meat and limit the consumption of poultry
Most long-lived families avoid the consumption of red meat to limit their meat consumption to poultry no more than twice each week. They either use it as a side dish or for seasoning other dishes. They eat meat no more than five times each month, with the serving size being no more than 2 ounces (about the size of a deck of cards).
3. Consume 3 ounces of fish per day
Daily intake of fish is nutritious and beneficial to health, with a high content of beneficial omega-3. Fish is frequently seen in the diet of healthy elderly people. They choose wild oily species like sardines, salmon, and mackerel as they have the most omega-3 and are less likely to contain harmful chemicals or mercury.
4. Eat a cup of fresh berries every day
Berries, especially blueberries, are packed with antioxidants and that help prevent certain types of cancers. They can also help prevent signs of aging, such as cataracts, osteoporosis, and dementia.
5. Eat half a cup of cooked beans every day
Beans or legumes are rich in vitamins and minerals. They are the most important part of the diet of healthy elderly people. As the best source of dietary fiber, they are made up of protein (21 percent), carbohydrates (77 percent), and a little fat. Their nutritional value is higher than many other foods.
6. Eat whole grain bread and oats
Whole grain bread and “old fashioned” (not instant) oats contain a lot of dietary fiber, which is beneficial for the digestive health of the gut in older people. Good choices include dark breads, such as rye. The variety of nutrients and fiber contained in them help digestion and can reduce blood sugar.
7. Reduce the consumption of sugar, but not raw honey
Sugar intake of healthy elderly people is only about 20 percent of the amount consumed by average people. They usually eat cookies, candies, or other baked treats only 2-3 times a week. A much healthier alternative for many elderly is a tablespoon of raw honey once a day. It has vitamins, trace enzymes, amino acids, and minerals, as well as antioxidants that help wipe out some cancer-causing free radicals.
8. Eat two handfuls of nuts or seeds every day
A Harvard study lasting 30 years disclosed that those who eat nuts and seeds, such as pecans and sunflower seeds, have a mortality rate 20 percent lower than those who do not. Other studies have shown that a diet including nuts and seeds can lower the level of LDL cholesterol by 20 percent, which can reduce the occurrence of cardiovascular disease.
9. Increase your intake of water
Water can flush out toxins in the liver and kidneys, and is extremely good for the body at any age.
10. If drinking alcohol, drink only red wine
Healthy elderly people in longevity areas drink 1-3 glasses of red wine daily. It may help the body absorb vegetable antioxidants, reduce stress, and promote cardiovascular health.
11. Drink green tea and have some apple cider vinegar
Green tea can lower the risk of heart disease and some kinds of cancer. Also, two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar twice a day has been shown to reduce blood pressure and blood sugar levels in elderly diabetics.
12. Eat a variety of unprocessed whole foods
The elderly who live the longest eat beans, whole grains, nuts, and vegetables together. They can provide the essential amino acids that the human body cannot produce on its own, and which are especially important as we age.