Good Aging: Diet plays an important role in health and longevity – Tallahassee Democrat

By 2050, the country’s elderly population will double to more than 88 million, according to the US Census Bureau, and the vulnerable population over the age of 85 will quadruple to 19 million. Currently, Florida ranks first in the United States in the percentage of full-time residents and seasonal residents over 65 years of age.

As the population continues to age, and as many of us enter retirement age, a healthy diet can go a long way toward helping us live longer and healthier lives.

Some of these foods (along with a few evidence-based supplement tips) can help us in this effort. thanks for the and extends Lots of content, which focuses on potential support factors for a longer, healthier life.

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Antioxidants and aging

Free radicals are molecules that can damage healthy cells. It can make you more likely to get certain diseases, such as cancer, and speed up aging. Foods rich in antioxidants can help fight these molecules. Colorful vegetables and fruits are full of them, so aim for five to nine servings of them each day.


These are a great source of antioxidants and may help prevent cancer and some brain diseases. Frozen berries also contain. Check out the freezer box at the grocery store and enjoy them all year round.

olive oil

These delicious “good” fats may help boost your memory and help fight inflammation. One study also showed that olive oil helps lower levels of “bad” (LDL) cholesterol without affecting “good” cholesterol (HDL).


It’s called “brain food” because its fatty acids, DHA and EPA, can help your brain and nervous system function the way it should. Eating fish once or twice a week may make you less likely to develop dementia. The omega-3 fats found in fatty fish, such as salmon or trout, can lower “bad” cholesterol and triglycerides. It can also help reduce the inflammation that leads to atherosclerosis, when fatty deposits clog arteries.


Add these nutritional powerhouses to your diet three or four times a week. Fiber may aid in digestion and reduce the chances of obesity, heart disease and diabetes. And because it makes you feel fuller for longer, a high-fiber diet may help you lose weight, too. Put chickpeas on salads, or use beans instead of meat in soups.


Vegetables contain fiber, antioxidants, and large amounts of vitamins and minerals that may help protect you from chronic diseases. Dark leafy greens contain vitamin K for strong bones. Sweet potatoes and carrots contain vitamin A, which helps keep your eyes and skin healthy and protects against infection. In one study, men who ate 10 or more servings of tomatoes per week reduced their chances of developing prostate cancer by 35%.


Nuts are full of cholesterol-free vegetable proteins and other nutrients. Almonds are rich in vitamin E, which can help reduce the risk of stroke in women, and walnuts contain antioxidants. The unsaturated fats in walnuts can help lower LDL and increase HDL cholesterol. But nuts are not fat-free. One ounce of almonds — about 24 nuts — contains 160 calories. So enjoy it in moderation.


Drinks fortified with vitamin D, such as milk, help your body absorb and use calcium. This is especially important if you are at risk of developing osteoporosis or osteoporosis. Vitamin D may also help reduce the chances of colon, breast and prostate cancer. Eat yogurt with live cultures to aid digestion.

all grains

Adding them to your diet may reduce your chances of developing certain types of cancer, type 2 diabetes and heart disease. Fiber may also help prevent digestive issues such as constipation and diverticular disease. Choose whole-grain bread and pasta, and brown or wild rice instead of white. Put barley in soup or add plain oatmeal to meatloaf.

eat like greeks

People who live near the Mediterranean regularly include olive oil, fish, vegetables and whole grains in their meals, along with the occasional glass of red wine. Instead of salt, they use spices and herbs to flavor their foods. This “Mediterranean diet” can be good for heart health, and may reduce your chances of developing mild memory problems and some types of cancer.

Maintain a healthy weight

Some people find it difficult to maintain weight as they get older, especially after illness or injury. Two ideas are to eat smaller meals with healthy snacks in between, and switch to whole milk instead of skimmed. Don’t fill up on foods that are high in sugar or fat, or you won’t get the nutrients you need.

Lose weight for better health

Shedding extra pounds can put less stress on your joints, less stress on your heart, and may lower your chances of developing diabetes. It can be more difficult as you get older, because you are usually less active and lose muscle. Eat proteins like lean meat, tuna or beans and eat more vegetables, whole grains and fruits.

Note that the information provided is intended to be a guide and not a specific prescription for what to do. Please consult a qualified health professional and seriously consider advice from a registered dietitian/dietitian (RDN), as they are the best qualified and knowledgeable health professionals in the field of healthy diets.

additional information

Some additional resources to gain more in-depth knowledge about potentially beneficial foods can be accessed below:

• Read WebMD’s article “Foods for Strengthening the Heart, Brain, and Bones” at:

• Check out the article “9 Foods Associated with Living Longer, According to Research” on the site

Mark A. Mahoney, Ph.D., is a registered dietitian/nutritionist for over 35 years and completed his graduate studies in nutrition and public health at Columbia University. He can be contacted at

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