Top 5 Longevity Foods to Postpone Aging

These foods pack a long list of incredible health benefits

People who live notably long lives tend to eat fewer calories and enjoy unprocessed foods. (simona pilolla 2/Shutterstock)
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By Ann Louise Gittleman

As I was researching my newest book “Radical Longevity,” I took a good hard look at the longest living populations from Okinawa, Japan, and Sardinia, Italy, to Costa Rica, Greece, Loma Linda, California, and the Ashkenazi Jews from Eastern Europe.

What were they doing differently? Was it just good genes? Apparently not, because, according to a Danish population-based Twin Study on health, genetics only accounts for about 20 percent to 30 percent of longevity factors.

So, as I like to say, “your DNA is simply not your destiny!”

Long life is all about diet and lifestyle. Super-agers, people who live notably long lives, tend to eat fewer calories but enjoy nutrient-dense, wholesome, unprocessed foods. They stop eating when they feel about 80 percent full, eat more slowly, and enjoy meals as a time to pause and relax during the day. So, what could be easier than eating your way to a longer, more vibrant life?

Here are my top five longevity foods that super-agers enjoy on a daily or weekly basis. You should be incorporating them as much as possible, which isn’t hard because they’re also delicious.

1. Blueberries

Blueberries are my favorite fruit for living long and strong. These tiny berries are bursting with vitality—just like you will be when you add them to your daily diet. Blueberries are low in calories but higher in cell-protecting antioxidants—including the powerful cholesterol fighter resveratrol—than any other common fruit or vegetable.

Just one cup of blueberries contains more than 25 percent of your recommended daily amount of vitamin C and 4 grams of fiber as well as vitamin K and manganese to help prevent osteoporosis and joint inflammation. They contain significant amounts of both antibacterial and antiviral compounds and may even help protect you from heart disease and cancer.

The tannins in blueberries serve to cleanse the digestive system and promote a healthy urinary tract by preventing bacterial growth. They contain insoluble fiber, which prevents their total calories from being absorbed. And they’re naturally sweet, but their low amount of fructose makes them a perfect, guilt-free snack for satisfying a sweet tooth.

2. Broccoli

Broccoli needs to be high on your list of healthy veggies if you care to have better eyesight, lower your risk of heart disease and cancer, and renew the youthful glow of your skin.

High in antioxidants, sulfur, and vitamin C, broccoli is an excellent detoxifier. It also contains omega 3s, amino acids, and folate to keep your skin radiant. Rich in beta-carotene, phosphorus, zeaxanthin, and B vitamins, broccoli is excellent for protecting your eyes from age-related diseases such as macular degeneration and cataracts.

If that’s not enough to send you into the kitchen to steam some broccoli for dinner, how about its ability to help regulate blood pressure?  It’s high in chromium, which helps insulin to function properly by regulating blood sugar and helping to keep blood pressure in check. Broccoli also can’t be beat for its immune system-strengthening minerals such as selenium, zinc, phosphorus, and copper. And did you know that broccoli is an excellent source of calcium? It provides 47 milligrams of calcium per 100 grams to help prevent osteoporosis or other weakening of the bones and teeth.

Don’t forget fresh broccoli sprouts! They contain the highest known source of vital phytonutrients, indole-3-carbinol and sulforaphane, which aid the liver in its ability to process and neutralize toxins. Our body’s detoxification system is broken down into two phases. In phase one, detoxifying enzymes begin to process the metabolites. In phase two, the enzymes process metabolites, which are broken down so they can easily be excreted out of your body.

Sulforaphane increases the production of phase two enzymes, protecting DNA from free radicals and promoting immune system health. With the ability to affect more than 2,000 genes, activating numerous defense mechanisms, and neutralizing free radicals, sulforaphane is an extremely potent toxicity zapper. You can also find sulforaphane in products such as CS Health, which is 1,000 times more concentrated than broccoli extract.

3. Beets

Beets are one of the most regenerative foods for your body, making them longevity rock stars well worth adding to your daily diet. Beets aid in digestion, thin the bile, cleanse the liver, alkalize the blood, and even improve cognitive function and sports performance. They are rich in potassium, manganese, copper, magnesium, phosphorus, vitamin C, iron, folate, vitamin B6, nitrates, fiber—and more. The betalains in beets partner with glutathione to help your body detoxify.

If you’re concerned about weight loss, beets are your best friend because of their benefits for your liver and gallbladder. They contain betaine, which thins the bile that your liver uses to excrete toxins and helps to break down fats so they can be used for fuel, instead of padding your hips and thighs. Bile deficiency is very common for those of us over 60 and especially more so for those without a gallbladder. For those with their gallbladder intact, betaine also helps prevent gallstones. And it even increases serotonin, helping to boost your mood.

4. Barley

The most interesting finding of all was regarding barley. It was the most common grain eaten by the super-agers and I wondered why. I knew it was rich in soluble fiber and it was also a great source of magnesium, but what I discovered is that it is also one of the highest known food sources of silica (a major antagonist to aluminum).

Hulled barley is considered a whole grain, as only the outer shell has been removed during processing, whereas the more commonly available pearled barley isn’t a whole grain because the fiber-containing bran has been removed. Keep that in mind as you consider adding this lovely grain to your cereal, soups, and stews, and even as a base for hummus.

The benefits of whole-grain barley stem from not only its fiber content, but also its phytonutrients, which are plant compounds with significant health benefits, like being antioxidants. In barley, these phytonutrients support immunity and are neuro-protective, anti-inflammatory, anti-aging, and hormone regulating.

I like barley grass even better because its unique phytonutrients help repair DNA. It’s also rich in chlorophyll. Barley grass also contains anti-inflammatory enzymes and antioxidants that protect against radiation.

5. Beans

Last, but not least, another common food eaten by super-agers is none other than beans. It comes as no huge surprise that beans are one of the highest fiber-containing foods on earth. Several studies have shown that fiber-rich foods regulate blood-sugar levels, reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke, help control obesity, breast, and colon cancer, and gastrointestinal disorders.

And it’s critically important to note that without adequate soluble fiber, bile is recirculated in our body rather than being ushered out of the body. When this happens, it becomes toxic and often leads to intestinal inflammation, gallbladder, and liver disease, and skin conditions such as eczema, psoriasis, and acne.

Adding beans to your diet can be one of the most important health habits you can incorporate because of their nutrient and fiber content. However, as super-agers know, it’s important to reduce the lectin content to reduce damaging the lining of your digestive tract and prevent gas or bloating. To do this, I recommend soaking your beans through a “presoak cycle.”

Soak for at least 12 hours before cooking and add apple cider vinegar to the water. The addition of baking soda is said to boost lectin neutralization. And cooking beans for at least 15 minutes on high heat is said to reduce lectin toxicity by 500 percent.

May you live to 110 and enjoy these five “B-foods” listed above to boost your longevity, optimize health, and live your best life! For more radical tips on longevity, be sure to check out my book, “Radical Longevity.”

Ann Louise Gittleman holds a master’s in nutrition education from Columbia University, and is certified as a nutrition specialist by the American College of Nutrition. She also has a doctorate in holistic nutrition and has served as the chief nutritionist of the Pediatric Clinic at Bellevue Hospital and is the former director of nutrition at the Pritikin Longevity Center in Santa Monica, Calif. This article was originally published on

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