8 Foods for Longevity

Discover the ingredients for a longer, healthier life.
food for longevity

Fad diets come and go, but healthy eating remains the same. It should come as no surprise that focusing on good nutrition is one of the best things you can do to up the odds of living to 100. Do your best to increase the length and quality of your life by incorporating these foods for longevity into your diet.

How Food Affects Longevity

“We all want to live longer, but the key is living healthy for longer,” says Vicki Shanta Retelny, RDN, writer, speaker and host of the “Nourishing Notes” podcast. She says research on the Blue Zones – places with a disproportionately high number of people who live past the age of 100 – shows that lifestyle factors impact healthy aging.

Of course, there is no magic food guaranteed to lengthen your life. But even during the COVID-19 pandemic, heart disease remained the leading cause of death in the United States. The good news is that you can choose foods that boost your heart health, dramatically improving your odds of a long, healthy life.

“Think of your body like a nice car and food like gas,” says Amy Gorin, MS, RDN and inclusive plant-based dietitian in Stamford, Conn. “You need to fuel your body with quality foods that help every aspect of health, from heart health to bone health and more.”

So, what are the best foods for longevity? Below, Gorin and Shanta Retelny recommend eight foods that help to keep your body running smoothly and ward off life-shortening diseases.  

Fatty Fish

Salmon, sardines and canned, light tuna all contain omega-3 fatty acids, good fats which Shanta Retelny says help “[fend] off inflammation in the brain and cardiovascular system.” In other words, eating fatty fish can reduce your risk of life-shortening heart disease, and possibly even dementia.

Pro tip: Shanta Retelny recommends aiming for at least two servings of fish per week.

Tofu

There are many health benefits to plant-based eating, according to Gorin. “Eating a vegetarian diet can help lower your risk of Type 2 diabetes and coronary heart disease,” she says.

But if you’re reducing meat consumption or eliminating it entirely, it’s essential to incorporate plant-based proteins. Gorin suggests tofu.

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Pistachios

Nuts and seeds can also help fill your protein quota. Shanta Retelny says pistachios offer the most protein per serving.

With aging, our bodies become less sensitive to insulin,” she adds. “Eating higher protein snacks like pistachios can help keep your blood sugar in a healthy range.

Arugula

Arugula is a food for longevity because it’s brimming with nitrates. Gorin says research suggests that eating one cup of nitrate-rich vegetables each day can “dramatically lower your risk of heart disease.”

Pro tip: Gorin recommends eating arugula in a salad, like this one with a vitamin C-rich citrus dressing.

Whole-Grain Oats

Are you worried about shortening your life because of high cholesterol? Eat more oatmeal!

Shanta Retelny says the fiber in whole-grain oats helps keep cholesterol in check and your heart healthy. “Oats have a number of beneficial compounds that can fend off inflammation and promote healthy aging,” she adds.

foods for longevity

Berries

Both Gorin and Shanta Retelny promote eating berries for longevity. Healthy cholesterol levels help prevent heart disease, and people who regularly eat berries tend to have lower cholesterol.

Shanta Retelny says that wild blueberries pack an especially heart- and brain-healthy punch. “According to the MIND Diet, creating a berry habit at least twice a week can keep your brain healthy and functioning well in your older years,” she says.

Pro tip: Think of berries as more than just a snack. Gorin suggests incorporating them into everything from pancakes to homemade ice cream.

Pomegranates

Pomegranates are packed with antioxidants, which can “fend off damage from free radicals that cause our cells to age,” explains Shanta Retelny. They’re also tasty when pressed into juice – just be sure to get whole-pressed fruit juice for the full benefits.

Pro tip: Shanta Retelny suggested making a longevity-boosting spritzer by combining POM Wonderful 100% pomegranate juice with sparkling water.

Prunes

Research suggests eating five or six prunes per day can help prevent bone loss, and that’s great news for anyone hoping to live to 100.

“Bone health may be a surprising thing to think about when it comes to longevity, but think about hip fractures, for instance,” says Gorin. “Within the first year of injury, they can come with an increased risk of death.”

Pro tip: Gorin suggests boosting your daily intake by blending prunes into smoothies or adding chopped prunes to salads.

In general, cutting down on processed items and incorporating these foods for longevity into your regular eating habits will help you feel better, for longer. Your doctor or nutritionist can also help guide you in the right direction.

Which of these longevity foods do you love? Share your favorite ways to enjoy them in the comments below.

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10 Thoughts on “8 Foods for Longevity

  1. Great suggestions. I try to incorporate most of these healthy foods into my diet. Use only silken tofu in Coffee speciality drinks only. May try to make tofu pudding some day. Love the way eating little or no processed foods feels.

  2. I have a fruit smoothie every morning, usually a mix with frozen berries and tropical fruit. I find this an easy way to get 2 or 3 servings of fruit into my diet. In addition, my diet has turned more and more pescatarian.
    I struggled with gastrointestinal difficulties for a long time, and I finally have a handle on this, after a lot of trial and error.

  3. I have the same breakfast as Louann except I add a slightly rounded tablespoon of organic chia seeds, and I have an organic banana on the side. I take a spoonful of oatmeal mix and a couple blueberries, then a bite of the banana…

  4. An eight-ounce glass of pomegranate juice contains 32 grams of sugar, more than the amount of sugar contained in eight ounces of Classic Coca-Cola. Consuming excessive sugar leads to diabetes, which will certainly not extend your life. Eat fruit; don’t drink fruit juices.

  5. I am currently trying to help my Mom eat a healthy diet to help manage her Parkinsons. I am aware of these foods and will try to incorporate more Pomegranates. Which she loves, so I love the spritzer idea. She has been a very healthy eater her entire life. The limiters now are that her tremors and balance loss is contributing to more falls and she has lost the desire to cook. Would you have tips to begin a meal regimen for this kind of disease. Where I could make and freeze these meals for easy use?
    Thank you,
    Eliza

  6. Most intelligent people I know eat oats for the reasons stated. But, it is particularly important to find organic oats. Twice as important! Non-organic oats are sprayed with chemical agents twice–once to ensure their growth, but then a second time to kill the plant! Yes! Oats cannot be harvested when damp or living because of spoilage. To make harvest possible whenever desired, they are killed with herbicide! In countries like Ireland that are naturally damp, this is the only way they can harvest three times a year. Otherwise only two. The economics are obvious. So I try to find organic oat products as much as possible.
    Prunes are dried plums, and I find plums come in two kinds slurpy-messy wet, or hard and sour! Nectarines however are a cross between peaches and plums, and they are my go-to!
    Gotta love blueberries!

  7. I love to put fresh blueberries and flaxseed in my morning oatmeal. I put about 1/2 pint of blueberries and 3 tablespoons of flaxseed. Flaxseed is a good source of omega 3’s and protein too! It makes my oatmeal breakfast more filling so I don’t get hungry as quickly either.

  8. No to Swordfish or tuna: Top of the food chain means mercury.
    There’s a growing number of cases of breast cancer in vegans who rely heavily on tofu.
    Is Arugula the same as “Rocket” in Britain?

    Thank you,
    –Rick in Boston

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