Although food does not have the power to stop the aging process, your overall diet can certainly play a role in speeding it up or slowing it down. For example, a balanced diet high in fiber, lean protein, healthy fats and antioxidants can help you age healthily and lower your risk of age-related heart disease, dementia and other conditions. This is one of the main reasons why many centenarians around the world live so long.
On the other hand, a diet of excessive added sugars, processed foods, and saturated and trans fats (i.e. the typical Western diet) may contribute to a faster aging process and a likelihood higher incidence of age-related diseases.
If you’re looking for simple ideas on how to incorporate more healthy aging foods into your diet, the snacks below can be a great place to start. They all contain vitamins, antioxidants or nutrients that have been shown to be helpful in the aging process. Read on and for more tips on healthy aging, check out 6 Best Breakfast Habits to Slow Aging.
A simple plate of hummus and veggies is a super quick and easy snack that’s also healthy and full of helpful nutrients.
“This snack provides healthy fats and antioxidants, both of which contribute to brain health, as healthy fats are known to help the brain function more efficiently,” says Trista Best, MPH, RD, LD at Balance One Supplements. “The antioxidants in vegetables help reduce any inflammation that may be present and damage the brain.”
All vegetables can provide their own unique makeup of antioxidants and vitamins, but some that are known to be the best when it comes to slowing aging are dark leafy greens, bell peppers, and broccoli.
If you’re looking for a sweeter snack that doesn’t contain added sugar, fruits like raspberries can be a great choice.
“Raspberries are rich in antioxidants, which have been shown to reduce the signs of aging by fighting free radicals in the body, and these berries are also rich in vitamin C, which also delays skin aging and can help reduce the appearance of wrinkles and dryness of the skin,” says Courtney D’Angelo, MS, RDauthor to go wellness. “Overall, antioxidant-rich berries can calm skin and help reveal a more youthful appearance.”
According to Best, focusing on maintaining healthy muscles is an important part of the aging process.
“We have over 600 muscles in our bodies, so keeping them healthy through what we feed ourselves is essential for healthy aging, as healthy muscles allow us to keep moving our bodies in ways that reduce our risk disease, frailty and weight gain,” says Best.
For this reason, it’s crucial to eat lean protein and get enough protein at every meal. For a healthy, high-protein snack that will keep you full, hard-boiled eggs are a great choice. “This snack meets the definition of lean protein by being low in saturated fat, no trans fat, and a significant amount of protein,” Best says.
Greek yogurt is creamy, delicious, high in protein and low in sugar (if you find the good ones, be sure to read the label).
“Greek yogurt contains probiotics, which are good for gut health and may also help promote skin health,” says D’Angelo. “Primarily, probiotics can do this by helping to reduce inflammation throughout the body, which can help slow the onset of aging.”
In a review published in Microorganismsit has been found that probiotics can not only help balance your gut microbiota, but can also positively impact your immune function as you age.
Legumes like black beans, chickpeas, and lentils are packed with protein and plant fiber, which can benefit your health at any age. According to Best, these foods may also have beneficial effects on bone health.
“Pulses are rich in all the minerals beneficial for bone health, such as calcium, magnesium and fiber, to name a few, and these minerals are essential for proper bone development and prevention bone loss,” says Best.
Legumes may not seem like a snack at first, but “there are a ton of legume-based snack options on the market like roasted chickpeas, dry-roasted edamame, dark chocolate chickpeas and roasted lentils,” says Best.
“Protein bars are a healthy snack for many reasons, like helping you build lean muscle and helping you achieve your weight loss goals. Not only that, but protein can also boost your collagen levels, which can help make your skin firmer and less prone to wrinkles,” says D’Angelo.
If you need a protein boost and want to opt for a protein bar, there are plenty of low-sugar, high-fiber options available. “Choose ones that don’t have too much added sugar or you’ll defeat the purpose because added sugar can speed up the aging process,” says D’Angelo.