Some foods are powerhouses for nutrition and can have a huge impact on our health.
Here’s our list taken from Optimyz, our sister magazine, Optimyz, that we’ve collected over the years from various top nutritionists in Canada. We know that gut health is also important for our brain health and our immune system. Getting more of these foods into your diet can help in so many ways.
Top 10 Foods for Longer Living
One | Seeds
These are little nutrition bombs! Known as nutritional powerhouses, seeds are packed with healthy fats, protein and a range of micronutrients— think of them as pint-sized kernels with super-sized benefits. Many studies have shown that seeds can help prevent weight gain, the development of heart disease and accumulation of bad cholesterol. A high intake of nuts and seeds is also associated with reduced inflammation. The top four seeds are;
- Flax seeds; cholesterol fighters, packed with Omega-3 fatty acids and great for eye health too.
- Chia seeds: They don’t taste minty, but they’re from that family. Lots of calcium, zinc and antioxidants. Spread them on a salad!
- Hemp seeds: Amazing these are and sometimes called “hemp hearts”, they’re full of magnesium, iron and calcium. Excellent in salads, soups, cereal and sprinkled over a stew too!
- Sesame seeds: Sesame oil is rich in linoleic and oleic acids, which have cholesterol-lower- ing properties, making the oil a great choice to incorporate in salad dressings and other recipes. According to a recent study in healthy adults, taking sesame powder daily has positive effects on total cholesterol levels.
Two | Omega Oils
Research shows that, coast to coast, Canadians of all ages are deficient in these key omega-3 fats.
Look for increased sources of omega-3s in dark-green, leafy vegetables such as kale, broccoli or spinach; sea vegetables such as algae, spirulina or kelp; beans such as kidney, navy and pinto; fruits like Kiwi, papaya and mango; and hemp and seabuckthorn.
Three | Bitter Fruit
The fruit may be bitter, but the health benefits of bitter melons definitely makes the bitterness worth it. Scientifically known as Momordica charantia, these melons often range from light green to dark green depending on the places they are grown. We tend to stay away from bitter foods, but studies have shown that bitter foods can be good for you. This bitter fruit is a powerhouse. Bitter melons are commonly used in Asian cooking and in traditional medicinal practices. It is also known as bitter squash, bitter gourd or balsam pear. They’re great for heart health, respiratory and diabetes.
Four | Nuts
Nuts are like special little nutrient packages for our bodies and including them in your diet can help in so many ways— from getting omega-3 fatty acids to helping reduce blood sugar in diabetics and helping reduce heart attacks. The best are almonds, peanuts (not coated in salt or honey!), walnuts, pistachios and macadamia nuts.
Five | Mushrooms
In many Eastern traditions, mushrooms are considered the number one superfood. For centuries mushrooms have been revered in the East for their medicinal properties and health benefits. The right type of shroom can have special benefits—like help to improve sleep and reduce fatigue, balance hormones, aid gut health, boost brain power, increase energy, combat weight gain, fight cancer, and restore weakened immune systems. Some great mushrooms are chaga, lion’s mane, reishi and cordyceps. Lion’s mane is excellent for memory!
Six | Spices
Each source has certain benefits for our bodies, so it depends on what you think you need. The more you use them the better and natural where you can. Keep in mind though, they’re part of an overall diet and no one spice will cure you of anything. Nutmeg is great for fighting bacteria while turmeric is great for managing inflammation. Cumin is also great for anti-inflammatory properties and rosemary can help boost your immune system.
Seven | Fermented Foods
With the rise of antibiotics, pasteurization and other sterilization processes, healthy bacteria in your gut are under assault. Fermented foods can re-establish balance in your digestive system. This can be especially important as we age! These can include apple cider vinegar (with the mother), sauerkraut (which is great for you!) and drinks like Cultured Coconut with bacterias in them.
Eight | Honey
There are so many benefits to honey and perhaps the best is it’s antibacterial properties. The key however, is honey that’s from around where you live. Beware of mass produced honey as much of it comes from China and it’s not proper honey. Dark honey is the best too. It can also be used to manage sugars for diabetics…but no, it does not lower your blood sugar!
Nine | Phytoplankton
Because it’s a complete package of nutrients that contains protein, carbohydrates, fiber, fatty acids, amino acids, and a wide variety of minerals like calcium, potassium, and iron, as well as a full range of vitamins. It contains a little bit of everything that is natural and good for you. (It works best when added to a foundation of more commonly available staple foods). You don’t need much of it, as long as you take it regularly. It can be found in many supplement stores.
Ten | Legumes
Also more often known now as “smart carbs” unlike the bad carbs of refined wheat and pastas. Legumes are amazing. Common smart carb options include legumes, buckwheat, amaranth, quinoa, fruits and vegetables, and whole grains. In 2020, new options include bean pasta, a gluten-free and protein-packed alternative to spaghetti noodles that’s high in fibre, as well as shirataki noodles (made from yams) that are low-carb, low-calorie and gluten-free.
The key with all of these is to get them into your regular diet. Look for recipes that feature these foods, or find some supplements (such as lion’s mane or phytoplankton) to add to your daily intake. None of them will cure diseases, but as part of a healthy diet, they give you more ammunition to live longer.
Sources: A compilation of nutrition advice from Optimyz Magazine contributors that include Dr. Nekessa Ramy, Andrea Saliba, RN, Dr. Michelle Book and more.
More Insights: Check out this cool article on late night snacking the healthy way!
Author: Alexa Hurst is a team writer for HUM@Nmedia, parent brand of Silver Magazine, Canada’s leading health and wellness media company.