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Eating for Life: 8 Food Choices to Live Longer 

posted: 06/27/17
by: Katie Morton
Red wine glass and chocolate
iStock

Did you know that certain foods could add years to your life? Well, it's true. Current research indicates that your diet not only impacts how long you live, but also how well you live. The right food choices can reduce life-threatening illness, lower the risk of cancer and chance of stroke, protect your heart, and even decrease the possibility of dementia.

We realize it can be tough to keep up with the current health and wellness research. Let us help you take the guesswork out of making the right food choices. Here are eight food options with scientifically demonstrated, long-life benefits. Spoiler alert: Some of these life-boosting foods are downright delicious--chocolate and wine, anyone?

1. Nuts

Research indicates that snacking on nuts can significantly extend your life span. Two long-running Harvard studies reported that the more frequently people ate any variety of nuts, the lower their risk of premature death. In addition, The New England Journal of Medicine published a study that found daily nut-eaters were less likely to die of cancer, heart disease, and respiratory disease. In fact, swapping out a serving of red meat for nuts can reduce one's risk of dying young by up to 19 per cent!

2. Spicy Foods

Sriracha lovers rejoice! Adding spice to your food can add years to your life. According to a study published by the British Medical Journal, consuming spicy foods most days of the week lowered mortality risk by up to 14 per cent. If you're not sure of how to add more spice to your life, Men's Fitness has some tips.

3. Avocado

Avocados are super foods bursting with omega fats, helping to support vibrant skin, balance hormones, and prevent heart disease. Dietary experts tout nutrient-packed avocados as the perfect post-workout food--the hefty doses of vitamin B and potassium will help your muscle and nervous system revitalize after being taxed.

4. The "Japanese" Diet

The life expectancy in Japan is one of the highest in the world. Hundreds of medical studies have linked consuming Japanese dietary staples, such as seaweed, soy, and fresh vegetables, to better immune function, lower rates of cancer, and reduced overall inflammation.

Studies show that combining certain vegetables with healthy fats can substantially increase the amount of antioxidants your body absorbs. Including fatty fish like tuna or mackerel in your diet can be both tasty and life extending. For a list of health-boosting, fatty fish, check out Dr. Oz's Everything You Need to Know About Omega 3's Cheatsheet.

5. Coconut Oil

Coconut oil is a plant-based fat often recommended by nutrition experts for its diverse health benefits. Coconut oil has antimicrobial and antiviral properties, boosts metabolism, and supports a healthy thyroid. Coconut oil can even help maintain a healthy weight for a longer, healthier life.

6. Berries

Berries of all kinds pack a ton of immune-boosting antioxidants. High levels of antioxidants in one's diet have been shown to help prevent the development of life-threatening illness. Moreover, berries can protect brain health for a more vital aging process. According to a recent Harvard study, just a few servings of blueberries or strawberries per week can reduce cognitive impairment in older people.

7. Alcohol

Need a good reason to pop a cork tonight? Here's one--some studies show that consuming two alcoholic drinks per day for men and one alcoholic drink per day for women has significant heart-protective benefits. Even more interesting is the fact that those who claim to be moderate drinkers live longer than those who either abstain completely or drink heavily. Now that's something to toast to!

8. Dark Chocolate

Protecting one's heart health is key to a long life. Small amounts of dark chocolate can protect heart health, boost blood flow, and increase antioxidant levels. Experts advise that dark chocolate, which list cocoa solids as the first ingredient, is quite heart-healthy. Who knew that protecting your most vital internal organ could be so mouth-watering?

The good news is that living a long life doesn't require you to subscribe to a daily diet of raw kale and hot lemon water. Opting for foods that can protect your body from the hardships of aging may be surprisingly delicious!