As we age, it’s probably our common goal to lead the kind of life that doesn’t require us to take nearly two dozen different types of prescription medicine all day. When we reach past our 40s, we start to look for ways to avoid getting diabetes, over fatigue, get poor eyesight, weight gain and other age-related health risks.
When you think about it, there’s probably one or two people you know who are well into their 40s but are still at their peak. Self-care during our 40s isn’t just applying the right products to our skin, but also making sure we’re giving our bodies the right nutrients. Eating clean and leading a healthy lifestyle can slow down aging and minimize the chances of having to visit the doctor for worrying reasons.
Here are some foods you can add to your diet to promote lower cholesterol levels, improve brain function, control diabetes, prevent joint and muscle pain, and keep your heart healthy.
For Lower Cholesterol
Oats: Everyone’s go-to breakfast is undoubtedly one of the best foods we can add to our diet at any age. They’re rich in a soluble fiber called beta glucan, which, when digested, forms a gel that pulls together the cholesterol in the intestines so it doesn’t get absorbed by the body.
Nuts: If you’re feeling snacky, grab a handful of walnuts. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition published a study that found people who ate 1.5 ounces of whole walnuts for six days a week for a month showed lower cholesterol levels by 5.4%. Be wary of your servings though, because while they’re good for you, they also pack in a lot of calories.
Olive Oil: This kitchen superstar is enriched with monounsaturated fats that decrease LDL cholesterol. It’s also abundant in phenolics, which are substances found in plants that prevent blood clotting.
Blueberries: This superfood isn’t called super for nothing. Not only does it support our liver functions, but much like olive oil, it reduces the presence of bad cholesterol in the body by helping clear the arteries to prevent clogging.
Dark Chocolate: Several studies have already confirmed that dark chocolate is good for your health. It’s filled with antioxidants that keep your cholesterol levels low. It also has oleic acid, which is also found in olive oil. If you don’t have much of a sweet tooth or you’re worried about gaining some weight from eating chocolate, don’t worry. You only need to take up to an ounce of dark chocolate daily, just keep in mind you should get ones with at least 70% of cocoa content.
For Improved Brain Function
Tomatoes: Lycopene, an antioxidant found in tomatoes, helps the body fight free radicals that damage cells. When our brain cells are damaged, it can lead to degenerative brain diseases like dementia and Alzheimer’s.
Broccoli: Acetylcholine is a neurotransmitter, low levels of which are associated with Alzheimer’s diseases. Broccoli is rich in glucosinolates, which slows down the degeneration of acetylcholine. This neurotransmitter is also responsible for making sure the central nervous system is running perfectly and helps keep our memories sharp.
Turmeric: This spice has made a lot of noise in the health world recently for its many benefits. Now people can take it in the form of tea or supplements. Its main active ingredient, curcumin is capable of directly entering the brain and improve the growth of our brain cells and aid our memory. In relation to Alzheimer’s disease, curcumin gets rid of amyloid plaques, the presence of which are the main symptoms of the disease.
Salmon: Together with other cold-water types of fish, salmon is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which are believed to play a huge role in our cognitive functions. A research on neurology found a correlation between low levels of omega-3 and smaller brain volume and slower mental function.
Red wine: Good news for wine lovers! Research has shown that consuming moderate amounts of red wine and other hard liquor can decrease your chances of developing Alzheimer’s diseases.
Spinach: Consuming at least a serving of spinach and other green, leafy vegetables like collards have been proven to lower a risk for diabetes by 14 percent compared to those who only ate half a serving daily.
Cinnamon: This spice is rich in chromium, which enhances the effects of insulin in our body. Because it’s also abundant in the antioxidant polyphenol, it’s also capable of absorbing the free radicals in the blood and protect you from illnesses like cancer and diabetes. A study in the journal Diabetes Care found that people with Type 2 diabetes who took over a gram of cinnamon daily saw a drop in their blood sugar by 30 percent, and lower levels of LDL cholesterol and total cholesterol by over 25 percent.
Soy: No matter what form, these products are known to provide the body with high quality protein and low saturated fat and cholesterol. Over the years, many people have turned to soy to replace meat as a healthier option. The American Diabetes Association has recommended consuming two meatless meals per week with food lower in solid fats and calories.
Chia Seeds: Contrary to popular belief, chia seeds aren’t just an ingredient in your skincare products. Not only are they rich in fiber, they’re also low in digestible carbs. The fiber in chia seeds lower your blood sugar levels by helping the body control the speed in which food is absorbed in the gut.
Greek Yogurt: Apart from its high calcium content, it’s also rich in conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) which explains why it’s a part of so many people’s weight loss diets. When it comes to dairy options, greek yogurt is a great choice for diabetics, especially since it’s been known to improve blood sugar and reduce the risk for heart diseases.
For Joint and Muscle Pain
Cherries: Powerful antioxidants found in cherries, called anthocyanins, work to fight inflammation and pain enzymes much in the same ways as aspirin. A study published by the Journal of Nutrition revealed people who ate a bowl of cherries for breakfast saw a decrease in inflammation by 25%. For runners, those who drank 12 ounces of cherry juice twice a day for a week experienced less muscle pain.
Mint: This one is probably a no-brainer for most of us, since we’ve been using mint balms to ease muscle pain for so many years. But it’s not just the balm that’s effective in treating joint and muscle pain - the oil is useful for headaches as well. To take it in its tea form, simply pour boiling water over some leaves and steep it, depending on your preference.
Peppers: An ingredient in pepper called capsaicin energizes the nerves and stumps chemicals that send pain signals to the brain. This is similar to most topical creams that contain this ingredient. If you’re up to it, you can also eat hot peppers and get the same results! Just remember to wash your hands thoroughly after handling them though. Here’s a trivia: did you know capsaicin is an ingredient in Mace?
Garlic: A compound found in garlic called diallyl disulfide inhibits enzymes and other chemicals like cytokines, interleukins and prostaglandins that cause arthritis pain.
Extra virgin olive oil: Not only is this good for the heart, but it contains oleocanthal, which possesses similar qualities as anti-inflammatory drugs.
For Your Heart
Citrus fruits: Oranges and grapefruits are rich in flavonoid, which lower the risk of ischemic stroke for women by 19%. Abundance of vitamin C is good for the heart, since it’s been associated with lower risk of heart diseases. You can eat your regular orange or take it in drink form, but we wary of the sugar content!
Potatoes: They might have a bad rep for being a bad form of starch, but here’s something to keep in mind: as long as you don’t consume them when they’re deep fried, you’re in the clear! Potatoes are rich in potassium and fiber, which lower your blood pressure and the chances of getting a heart disease.
Raisins: A study by the American College of Cardiology found that consuming raisins can lower your high blood pressure. Why? Raisins are rich in potassium, which not only boosts our immune system but also lowers blood pressure.
Cauliflower: It’s rich in fiber and allicin, which is also a property found in garlic that lowers our chances of having a heart attack, and reduce our cholesterol levels. It’s also abundant in antioxidants, and while it’s not the usual recommendation of green, leafy vegetables, cauliflower definitely does the trick.
Avocado: You’ve probably seen this fruit listed in many articles telling you what you should eat to maintain a healthy body, and for good reason. Avocados are filled with monounsaturated fats that lowers cholesterol and other risks associated with heart diseases.