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11 Foods That Help You Live Longer

Written By David D'Angelo on Tuesday, June 3, 2008 | 6/03/2008

By Sarah Keefe Nutrition Correspondent

The secret to eternal life -- has it been discovered yet? While movies like Vanilla Sky and Austin Powers seem to suggest that being cryogenically frozen and brought back to life is as easy as spotting a pair of big breasts at Hooters, the sad truth is that we still haven't figured out a way to grace the Earth with our presence forever.

But don't draw up your will just yet -- as it turns out, we may be able to eat our way to life everlasting; there are some foods that may in fact increase your lifespan on this wondrous planet.

These super-foods, known for their anti-aging properties, all contain specific chemicals and/or vitamins that seem to increase our ability to fight off some of today's most prevalent, life-threatening diseases.

1- Apples

Ingredients: Apples are chock-full of several powerful antioxidants, especially quercetin, and are also high in the soluble fiber, pectin.

Health benefits: Quercetin, the superman of antioxidants, fights both blood clots and cancer. Pectin, not to be outdone, helps to lower blood cholesterol levels and remove cancer-causing toxins from the bloodstream.

Looks like the snake in the Garden of Eden may have been onto something -- an apple a day may just keep the grim reaper away.

The best way to eat them: Just like Eve did: raw, with its peel intact, since the apple's skin is what contains the quercetin.

2- Avocados

Ingredients: Avocados are extraordinarily high in fiber, and contain more potassium than bananas.

Health benefits: Not only do they make your skin soft and kissable, but avocados are also a nasty enemy of high blood pressure, heart disease and certain types of cancer, especially colon cancer. Who knew avocados could keep you regular?

The best way to eat them: Just scoop 'em out of the skin, and enjoy raw. Try mashing them together with tomatoes, lime juice, jalapeno peppers and salt for a killer guacamole.

3- Bananas

Ingredients: Bananas contain tons of potassium, magnesium and folate.

Health benefits: Potassium helps fight high blood pressure and reduces the risk of strokes. Folate is necessary for proper tissue growth, and is important in preventing heart disease and cancer.

The best way to eat them: Just like a monkey would. Simply peel and enjoy, and make high-pitched snorts of pleasure. It seems that monkeys are smarter than we think, after all.

Read on for the truth about eggs and nuts once and for all; you may be pleasantly surprised...

4- Eggs

Ingredients: Eggs are rich in choline, protein and the carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin.

Health benefits: What's the point of living forever if you can't remember where you put your dentures? Eggs can help, since the choline in eggs is thought to help retain memory in old age; furthermore, the carotenoids in eggs may be able to prevent cataracts, as well as age-related macular degeneration, both of which lead to blindness.

The best way to eat them: Unlike trying to get that raise you've been busting your butt to get for the past 3 months, eggs really are easy. Hard-boil them, soft-boil them, poach them, scramble them -- just try to avoid coating them with excessive amounts of butter or oil.

5- Garlic

Ingredients: Like so many anti-aging foods, garlic is an excellent source of antioxidants.

Health benefits: Garlic acts as an anti-coagulant in the blood, which reduces the risk of strokes, and also increases survival time in cancer patients by helping to destroy cancerous cells.

The best way to eat it: You might live to be 100, but you won't be able to pay someone to stand right next you; garlic is most beneficial if eaten raw, such as minced or pulverized, and added to a salad dressing.

6- Kidney beans

Ingredients: Oodles and oodles of soluble fiber.

Health benefits: Fiber helps one maintain a healthy digestive system, and wouldn't you know that a healthy digestive system may help prevent colon cancer and diabetes? Oh, and it gets better: soluble fiber also lowers blood cholesterol and blood sugar. Bring on the beans.

The best way to eat it: Both dried beans and canned provide the same health benefits, so simply throw some kidney beans into your favorite chili, or fry them up with some Mexican spices and eat them in a burrito or taco. Chili and Monday Night Football, does it get any better than this?

7- Walnuts

Ingredients: A handful of walnuts has as much omega-3-fatty acid as 3 ounces of salmon, and I tell ya, that's a whole lot of omega right there.

Health benefits: Not only does omega-3 fatty acid help to dissolve blood clots and heart disease, it may also help to prevent arthritis and depression.

The best way to eat it: Walnuts are freshest when they're eaten right out of their shell, but they can also be kept fresh for about 2 weeks out of their shell, if kept in a cool, dry place. For an easy and fun way to enjoy walnuts, sprinkle them over a salad or a stir-fry dish.

Read on for another reason to uncork a good bottle of Merlot with your lady tonight...

8- Tofu and soy products

Ingredients: The plant hormones isoflavones.

Health benefits: No longer just for aging hippies and residents of The Golden State, soy helps lower the amount of unhealthy LDL cholesterol in the blood, which lower blood pressure and will protect you from a heart-induced seizure the next time someone butts in front of you at the grocery store.

The best way to eat it: Firm tofu is the best pure source of soy. And contrary to popular belief, tofu really can be edible, and tasty even. To get the maximum epicurean pleasure from your tofu, try marinating it in soy sauce, lemon juice, oil, and herbs, then bake or stir-fry it with your choice of veggies.

9- Red wine

Ingredients: Red grapes contain the powerful antioxidants catechins and a polyphenol called resveratrol.

Health benefits: Catechins help destroy free radicals and in doing so help prevent cancer, while recent studies have shown that resveratrol can lower cholesterol levels in the body, and reduce the growth of skin melanomas and other cancers.

The best way to drink it: With a steady hand; this stuff stains. 1-2 glasses of wine per day (4-5 ounces per glass) will imbue you with red wine's anti-aging properties, but exceeding this amount will actually reverse any positive effects the wine may have had.

10- Spinach

Ingredients: Just like Dr. Evil's henchman, spinach is the #2 of healthy vegetables -- it has almost as many antioxidants as garlic, and is also an excellent source of folic acid, and vitamins A and C.

Health benefits: Spinach is an excellent multi-tasker: it fights cancer, heart disease and mental disorders.

The best way to eat it: Uncooked spinach or steamed spinach is best; try a spinach salad with tomatoes, walnuts and a hard-boiled egg for a meal fit for a superhero.

11- Fennel

Ingredients: This Italian vegetable is high in vitamin A, calcium, potassium, and iron.

Health benefits: It does way more than just rhyme with kennel. Fennel's seeds help alleviate digestive problems, while the iron and vitamin A in the plant help maintain healthy skin and nails, and prevent fatigue and anemia.

The best way to eat it: Good news, fennel lovers; fennel can be consumed in a myriad of ways: raw, steamed, sauted, or braised!
eat for life

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