Face lifts, Botox and chemical peels; in the United States alone people spend over 10 billion dollars annually trying to fight the effects of aging. Aside from the cost, and the dangers, of cosmetic surgery and treatments in an effort to “look” younger, these procedures do nothing to treat the internal causes of aging. Aging of the body is related to cell death. As the body ages, cells die off at a faster rate than the body can replace them; while there is no way to stop cell death, there are ways to slow it down.
Free radicals, highly unstable and reactive atoms that have at least one unpaired electron, are the harbinger of death for animal cells. Free radicals are believed to hasten the progression of age-related diseases, including heart disease and cancer. Bolstering the immune system, antioxidants molecules are able to inhibit the oxidation (damage) of cells caused by free radicals. Being found in abundance in certain “super” foods; incorporating antioxidant-rich foods into the diet is believed to be the most effective way of preventing cell damage from free radicals.
This versatile veggie has long been considered one of the top super foods. Packed with the antioxidant vitamin C, broccoli helps to prevent cells from free radical damage and aids in iron absorption. Containing high quantities of folic acid, broccoli helps in maintaining normal tissue growth. High in potassium, broccoli aids in battling hypertension while high amounts of calcium helps guard against osteoporosis. Broccoli contains indole-3-carbinol, believed to block hormone related cancers while promoting healthy hormones. The sulforaphane in broccoli works to increase enzymes that are shown to block cancer, while the beta-carotene in broccoli allows the body to manufacture vitamin A — another powerful antioxidant that prevents free radical damage. The nutrients in Broccoli have also been shown to slow the advance of Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes and the overall aging process.
Having the highest antioxidants levels of any food, blueberries contain vitamins C, E, A (as beta-carotene) and B complexes. Minerals found in blueberries include zinc, selenium, iron and copper all known to boost immune system function to help slow down the aging process.
Second only to blueberries in overall antioxidant level, pomegranates can help ward off cancers, prevent osteoarthritis, plaque buildup in the arteries and slow begin prostate enlargement in men.
Having the highest leaves of lutein and zeaxanthin of any single food, kale is believed to protect the eyes from age-related macular degeneration and cataract disease.
It has often been said that fish is brain food; turns out salmon is just as good for your heart. The frontrunner in the animal source protein category for protection against heart disease, salmon contains high levels of Omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 acids are also shown to help prevent blood clots, which can lead to strokes. There is also some evidence that Omega-3 acids can help protect against Alzheimer’s disease.
For vegetarians, walnuts are also a high source of omega fats, and are one of the richest sources of linoleic acid found in nature. Dozens of studies have demonstrated linoleic acid to be effective at reducing the risk of heart disease through improving blood vessel elasticity and preventing plaque buildup in the arteries.