Forget microdermabrasion and botox. The real power to turn back the clock lies in what you put on your plate. These three foods are currently at the top of my anti-aging list. Here’s why, along with some healthy ways to enjoy them:
You may not be surprised to see green tea on the list, but there’s new science about exactly how it works. Researchers from the Chinese University of Hong Kong studied green tea’s impact on the length of telomeres, DNA sequences at the end of chromosomes that shorten as cells age. They found that the antioxidants and natural properties of tea impact the function of telomeres and the normal aging process. People who drank, on average, three cups of tea per day had longer telomeres than those who drank an average of a quarter cup of tea daily. This difference corresponded to an additional five years of life! Pretty cool, huh?
Turn Back the Clock: I love to brew and sip green tea, hot or cold, but I also use it as the base for marinades or broth for noodles. I also use loose tea leaves as a seasoning. For example, I'll whip them into fruit smoothies, fold them into melted dark chocolate to make truffles (so yummy!), and toss with other seasonings like black pepper, garlic powder and lemon zest as a rub for tofu or chicken.
Newcastle University scientists recently reported that an antioxidant in soy called daidzein may activate a protein linked to the regulation of aging and longevity. And the levels that triggered this protective response can be achieved simply by eating whole soy foods, such as edamame, soy nuts (dried soy beans) and tofu. Experts say the long life expectancy and healthy aging observed among the inhabitants of Okinawa, Japan, who include soy as a staple, raises the possibility that they may be living proof of these effects.
Turn Back the Clock: Add edamame to a stir fry, keep a stash of soy nuts in your desk drawer or bag, top a salad with grilled extra firm tofu, or add soy milk or silken tofu to a smoothie. Go with organic if you can and keep it at a few servings a day to make room for other healthy lean proteins.
When Norwegian scientists studied the effects of chocolate on the cognitive performance of more than 2,000 seniors, they found that compared to those who abstained, chocolate eaters scored significantly higher on challenging brain teasers.
Turn Back the Clock: Enjoy a few individually wrapped tasting squares of 70 percent or darker chocolate every day. Melt one in your latte, toss a few into a fruit smoothie, or make a habit of enjoying a square or two as an indulgent end to your dinner meal or when you need a ‘chocolate moment.'
Cynthia Sass is a registered dietitian with master's degrees in both nutrition science and public health. Frequently seen on national TV she's a SHAPE contributing editor and nutrition consultant to the New York Rangers and Tampa Bay Rays. Her latest New York Times best seller is Cinch! Conquer Cravings, Drop Pounds and Lose Inches.