3. Dark leafy greens
Not that you need another reason to fill your plate with leafy green vegetables, but here it is: Eating spinach, kale, chard, collards, lettuce and the like on a regular basis may slow age-related cognitive decline, according to a study in the journal Neurology. Researchers compared study participants who ate around 1½ servings of greens a day with those who ate less than a serving a day and found that the rate of cognitive decline among those who consumed the most was the equivalent of being 11 years younger (in terms of brain health).
4. Whole grains
Eating more whole grains — think brown rice, bran, oatmeal, popcorn, couscous, quinoa — may reduce the risk of early death, according to a large review of studies published in Circulation. The researchers found that people who ate about four servings of whole grains per day had a lower risk of dying during the 40-year study period, compared with those who ate little or none at all. The health benefits are believed to be a result of the high fiber found in whole grain foods, which may lower cholesterol production. In addition, says Kirkpatrick, “whole grains can replace white, refined grains, which have a negative impact on insulin, blood sugar and satiation.”
There’s no such thing as a bad fruit (unless, of course, it’s bathed in syrup and comes from a can). They all offer a variety of immune-supportive, anti-inflammatory and anti-aging properties like vitamin C, potassium and phytochemicals, those good-for-you compounds found in plants, Kennedy says. But “berries are particularly beneficial, as they are low in sugars, high in fiber and rich in nutrients,” she adds. “The vibrant color is one way you can tell they are good for you. The blue-purple family of nutrients, like in many berries, have unique properties for immunity, brain health and cardiovascular health.” In a study published in Applied Psychology, Nutrition and Metabolism, healthy people between the ages of 66 and 70 who drank concentrated blueberry juice every day showed improvements in brain activity. The study suggests their memory also improved.