Eating in order to age well means more than eating nutrient-rich foods without excess kilojoules. Certain foods contain specific compounds that just might convince Father Time to slow down a bit. Scientists call these unique compounds phytochemicals, a technical word for plant chemicals. They are a big reason why fruit and vegetables are so good for your health.
1. Soy – Soy is an excellent source of calcium and protein. It also contains plant oestrogens called isoflavones, which offer unique health-protective properties. Eating soy may guard against osteoporosis and help lower cholesterol.
2. Fish – Rich in omega-3 fatty acids, fish helps protect against heart disease. It may also help ward off depression by boosting the body’s production of serotonin, a key mood-affecting brain chemical.
3. Garlic – Studies have found that eating garlic can help lower cholesterol and reduce the risk of blood clots. There is also evidence that it can reduce the risk of some types of cancer.
4. Broccoli and its cabbage cousins – These vegetables are not only loaded with vitamins and fibre, they also contain a class of phytochemicals called isothiocyanates. Some studies suggest that these compounds protect against a wide range of cancers.
5. Tomatoes – Tomatoes contain a compound called lycopene which may help fight cancer and boost the immune system.
6. Spinach – Spinach guards against macular degeneration, the most common cause of blindness in people over 65. It’s also a good source of fibre, folic acid and vitamins A, C and E.
7. Tea – Tea is rich in antioxidant compounds called catechins, which may protect against heart disease, stroke and cancer.
8. Blueberries – Blueberries are rich in vitamin C, fibre and antioxidants, which protect against heart disease and cancer. Like cranberries, they may also guard against urinary tract infections.
9. Nuts – Nuts are rich in vitamin E, magnesium and unique health-protective phytochemicals and compounds that may protect against cancer. The fat contained in nuts is the heart-healthy kind, and there's evidence that eating nuts is good for your heart.