14 Best Anti-Aging Foods
Whether you’re 26 or 106, chances are you want to look and feel younger. Our innate desire for youth fuels the anti-aging industry, which produces all types of cremes, supplements, and treatments to help stave off the effects of aging.
Within this more than $300 billion industry, we are seeing an accelerated demand for skincare products and a new trend of aesthetic plastic surgery claiming a larger chunk of the market.1 These and other treatments can be expensive and typically only offer short-term results. But what if there was an inexpensive way to reduce the wrinkles, blemishes, and physical problems associated with aging?
While anti-aging products and procedures can be beneficial, food may just give you the best odds of looking and feeling young for a longer period of time. By adding a few foods to your diet and avoiding the junk as much as possible, you can age more healthfully without breaking the bank:
Rich in antioxidants, vitamin K, and vitamin C, blueberries are at the top of the list when it comes to anti-aging foods. A 2008 study found that resveratrol, a natural phenol found in blueberries, decreased signs of aging in mice, including decreased inflammation, greater motor coordination, and preserved bone mineral density.2
The amazing properties of blueberries protect against harmful free radicals from pollution, sun exposure, and stress. So if you want firmer skin with fewer wrinkles—in addition to a number of other health benefits—add a half a cup of blueberries to your diet.
Like blueberries, kale is also loaded with antioxidants that work to reduce the signs of aging. It provides a number of key nutrients, including:
- Vitamin C, K, & E
- Vitamin B1, B2, B3, & B6
Along with being a potent antioxidant, kale also helps fend off cancer cells, maintain strong bones, and enhance detoxification. As toxicity is a major contributor to aging, kale’s detox properties are especially appealing.3
Kale is known for it’s bitter, unpleasant taste, but you can get around this by combining it with other foods and massaging it with salt and olive oil, vinegar, or lemon juice.
3. Dark chocolate
Healthy aging doesn’t have to be a chore. Enter dark chocolate, a food rich in antioxidants and essential minerals such as magnesium, iron, and manganese. The health benefits of dark chocolate come from its cacao content. So the higher the percentage of cacao in dark chocolate, the better it is for you.
Dark chocolate also contains flavanols, which can protect against sun damage and improve blood flow to the skin. One study found after consuming dark chocolate high in flavanols for 12 weeks, test subjects more than doubled their resistance to UVB rays.4 Furthermore, another study from the University of California San Diego School of Medicine found that foods high in flavanols like dark chocolate can reverse aging related to oxidative stress and neuroinflammation.5
The body is mostly made up of water, so its no wonder that staying hydrated is important for reducing the effects of aging. Water assists with not only brain function, digestion, and the immune response, but also helps moisturize the skin, keeping it soft and smooth.
Chronic dehydration can contribute to a number of serious illnesses, so it’s important to drink enough each day. The US Institute of Medicine recommends 125 ounces of water a day for men and 91 ounces for women. These numbers also include the water you are getting from food and other non-water beverages. Generally, the water you get from these other sources should be about 20% of your total water intake.6
Salmon contains an abundance of omega-3 fatty acids, which offer several health benefits throughout life including fetal development, brain health, and cardiovascular function. The omega-3s contained in salmon also work to protect and moisturize the skin, preventing it from wrinkling and other signs of aging.7
Another beneficial substance found in salmon is the carotenoid astaxanthin. This super antioxidant offers diverse clinical benefits, including:
- Lowers oxidative stress
- Blocks oxidative DNA damage
- Lowers inflammation biomarkers
- Improves blood flow
- Improves cognition
- Enhances energy production efficiency
- Slows age-related functional decline8
Like Salmon, many nuts are also high in omega-3s, especially walnuts and butternuts. Nuts are also a rich source of key vitamins and minerals, including vital B-complex vitamins and potassium. Dietary fiber, which has been tied to successfully aging,9 is abundant in nuts as well.
While many people shy away from them because they are high in fat and calories, nuts are actually full of good fats, which are beneficial for your heart health. And if you are calorie conscious, you can limit yourself to lower-calorie nuts like almonds, cashews, and pistachios. You may also want to consider adding seeds to your diet, which contain many of the same properties as nuts but are typically consumed in smaller amounts—thus limiting your calorie intake.
Containing high amount of vitamin c, vitamin k, catechins, and polyphenol compounds, pomegranates are a powerhouse when it comes to anti-aging. This biblical fruit’s properties not only help reduce inflammation and lower blood pressure, but have also been linked to improved verbal and visual memory.10
If that isn’t enough, here’s another surprising benefit of pomegranates…
Scientists recently discovered that pomegranates contain a certain compound that enables muscle cells to protect themselves against a major cause of aging: As we age, the process that recycles worn-out mitochondria slows down, weakening muscle and tissue. The compound activated by pomegranates, urolithin A, helps restore the efficiency of this process.11
Spinach is high in vitamin k, vitamin a, and omega-3 fatty acids, all of which have anti-aging properties. As one of the most nutritious foods you can eat, this amazing vegetable offers a wide range of benefits for healthy aging, including:
- Strengthens bones
- Boosts immunity
- Revitalizes skin
- Reduces hypertension
- Preserves eye health
- Assists detoxification12
Another hidden benefit of spinach is the hydration it provides for your body and your skin, as just one cup contains 5 ounces of water. As a side note, other greens that have high water content include lettuce, watercress, tomatoes, asparagus, Swiss chard, cabbage, and broccoli.13
9. Green tea
The ancient Chinese were clearly onto something when they first brewed green tea thousands of years ago. Steamed from the leaves of the Camellia sinesis plant, green tea has among the highest concentrations of antioxidants of any food. Along with its free radical-fighting properties, green tea is known to boost metabolism, bolster the immune system, and improve heart health and digestion.14
Studies have revealed that green tea offers significant benefits for the skin as well. For instance, it has been found to protect the skin from harmful UV rays, reduce skin inflammation, and inhibit carcinogen production.15
The avocado is unique among anti-aging foods in that it penetrates deep into our cells and inhibits mitochondria from producing free radicals, which are linked with illness and aging.16 That alone may be enough to have you adding avocados to your shopping list.
But there’s more…
Avocados also contain the essential amino acids needed to form a complete protein. The body can use these proteins more efficiently than those found in meats. Add a ridiculous amount of healthy fats, natural fiber, and potassium, and you have a truly amazing food that will help you fight the effects of aging.17 And while eating avocados benefits the skin, you can also create an avocado-based mask for your face to fight wrinkles and dryness.
11. Fermented foods
The secret to slowing down aging may lie in the fermentation process. This process helps to populate the intestines with good bacteria, which is critical because many of us have issues with leaky gut and an overgrowth of bad bacteria.
Healthy bacteria from fermented foods can help restore your gut microbiome, which will consequently improve immune and digestive system function. And because healthy bacteria fight off free radicals and pathogens, fermented foods also promote smooth, healthy skin and nourish hair follicles.18
Some of the best fermented foods are:
- Probiotic yogurt
- Wine (in moderation)
Hydration is crucial for healthy aging, and watermelon contains more water than any other fruit, as well as most other foods. This large, water-logged fruit is also loaded with the amino acid citrulline and the antioxidant lycopene, which gives it that attractive red color. Citrulline helps to boost muscle endurance and lower hypertension,19 and lycopene’s anti-aging benefits include helping prevent cancer and neurological problems associated with old age such as Alzheimer’s.20
Watermelon can also help you look younger. One trend in the beauty industry is rubbing watermelon seed oil into the scalp to nourish hair. And surprisingly, rubbing the rind of a watermelon on your face can help heal and regenerate your skin, giving you a more youthful appearance.21
As you may have noticed by now, antioxidants are basically synonymous with anti-aging. Turmeric is a spice that’s high in antioxidants, which protect against skin damage, heart disease, vision loss, and even cancer.22
Along with free radicals, elastase is another substance in the body that can damage the skin. This enzyme prevents elastin from forming, which helps make the skin smooth and pliable. Studies have shown that turmeric can significantly inhibit elastase production.23
Turmeric can be added to many types of foods and even spread on the skin. Just be aware that it can stain the skin temporarily.
Like watermelon, tomatoes are also rich in lycopene. This powerful antioxidant protects and strengthens the skin, and has even been found to reduce the risk of chronic diseases.24 Tomatoes are good for you when raw but are even better cooked, as the heating process releases even more lycopene.25
In addition to lycopene, tomatoes are also a good source of vitamin c, vitamin k, potassium, choline, and phytosterols. Their phytosterol content is particularly interesting, as these compounds can help lower cholesterol.26 On a related note, other foods high in phytosterols include lettuce, capers, pickles, beets, beet greens, and cucumbers.
Avoiding the Junk
As great as these foods are for your health, another important piece of looking and feeling young is avoiding foods that are associated with premature aging. Foods that are known to age your body and mind include:
- Fried foods
- Sugary foods
- Processed foods
- Wheat-based foods
- Soda pop
Avoiding these foods and adding organic, pure anti-aging foods to your diet will give your health an amazing boost that can help you turn back the clock on aging. If you want to learn more about the discovering your biological preference for a variety of different foods, the Foods for Wellness scan in the ZYTO Select and Elite software can point you in the right direction.
Looking for more info? Check out these quotes on healthy aging
1. “Global Anti-Aging Market.” Mordor Intelligence. Mordorintelligence.com.
2. Pearson, K.J., J.A. Bauer, K.N. Lewis et al. “Reservatrol Delays Age-Related Deterioration and Mimics Transcriptional Aspects of Dietary Restriction without Extending Life Span.” Cell Metabolism 8, no. 2 (2008): 157-168.
3. Ohtahke, Shin. “Kale: The Superfood for Combating Aging.” Max Workouts. Maxworkouts.com.
4. “7 Proven Health Benefits of Dark Chocolate.” Healthline. Healthline.com.
5. “Eating dark chocolate can actually reverse ageing process: study.” Deccan Chronicle. Deccanchronicle.com.
6. “Dietary Reference Intakes for Water, Potassium, Sodium, Chloride, and Sulfate.” Institute of Medicine of the National Academies. Nap.edu.
7. Bouchez, Colette. “Want Healthy Skin? Feed It Well.” WebMD. Webmd.com.
8. Kidd, Parris. “Astaxanthin, Cell Membrane Nutrient with Diverse Clinical Benefits and Anti-Aging Potential.” Alternative Medicine Review 16, No. 4 (2011): 355-364.
9. “Dietary fiber intake tied to successful aging, research reveals.” The Gerontological Society of America. Sciencedaily.com.
10. Bookheimer, S.Y., B.A. Renner, A. Ekstrom et al. “Pomegranate juice augments memory and FMRI activity in middle-aged and older adults with mild memory complaints.” Evidence-Based Complementary Alternative Medicine (2013).
11. Paddock, Catharine. “Gut bacteria unleash anti-aging power of pomegranates.” Medical News Today. Medicalnewstoday.com.
12. Jessimy, Michael. “10 Amazing Health Benefits of Spinach.” Natural Food Series. Naturalfoodseries.com.
13. Whitbread, Daisy. “17 Vegetables Highest in Water.” MyFoodData. Myfooddata.com.
14. “What Is Green Tea? Benefits?” Green Tea Nutrition Facts. Greenteanutritionfacts.com.
15. Hsu, Stephen. “Green tea and the skin.” American Academy of Dermatology 52, no. 6 (2005): 1049-1059.
16. “Why Avocados are the Most Unique Antiaging Food.” LA Healthy Living. Lahealthyliving.com.
17. “Nine Amazing Avocado Health Benefits.” Underground Health Reporter. Undergroundhealthreporter.com.
18. “Youth Preserving Benefits of Fermented Foods.” HackMyAge. Hackmyage.com.
19. Ikeda, Y., L.H. Young, R. Scalia, & A.M. Lefer. “Cardioprotective effects of citrulline in ischemia/reperfusion injury via non-nitric oxide-mediated mechanism.” Methods and findings in experimental and clinical pharmacology 22, no. 7 (2000):563-71.
20. Chen, W., L. Mao, H. Zing et al. “Lycopene attenuates AB1-42 secretion and its toxicity in human cell and and Caenorhabditis elegans models of Alzheimer disease.” Neuroscience Letters (2015): 28-33.
21. Carbo, Diane. “Home Remedy For Damaged Skin: Watermelon Wash.” Foodtrients. Foodtrients.com.
22. “Antioxidants: Beyond the Hype.” Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Hsph.harvard.edu.
23. Group, Edward. “How Turmeric Keeps You Looking Young.” Global Healing Center. Globalhealingcenter.com.
24. Rao, A.V. & S. Argarwal. “Role of antioxidant lycopene in cancer and heart disease.” Journal of the American College of Nutrition 19, no. 5 (2000):563-9.
25. Friedlander, Blaine. “Italian chefs knew it all along: Cooking plump, red tomatoes boosts disease-fighting, nutritional power, Cornell researchers say.” Cornell Chronicle. News.cornell.edu.
26. “Phytosterols: Sterols & Stanos.” Cleveland Clinic. My.clevelandclinic.org.