Healthy Beginnings

Top 10 Foods for Optimal Aging: Are You Ready to Hit the Market?

Blueberries: Evidence suggests that the consumption of blueberries may be effective in improving or delaying short-term memory loss. They’re widely available, and extremely high in protective antioxidants. You can also look out for dark red and purple fruits and veggies, which contain the same protective compounds called anthocyanins. Blueberries and other berries fight cancer by, among other mechanisms, inhibiting angiogenesis (the creation of new blood vessels) and boosting natural killer (NK) cell activity – they’re very good at reducing damage and suppressing cancer in vitro.

Water: Not a food, it could be asked? Think of it as one. Many older people simply don’t drink enough water because they don’t feel as thirsty as they used to. The health impact of water and proper hydration is vastly underappreciated. Our bodies are mostly water. If one is chronically dehydrated, just think of what your cells look like and feel like! You can’t think as clearly, you get fatigued more easily and you don’t tolerate heat as well.

Oranges (vitamin C): Vitamin C gives you healthier hair and nails. It stimulates hair growth and also helps to produce collagen in the body, which causes nails to grow longer. It protects the skin from sun damage. It protects against cataract progression. Importantly, vitamin C lowers your risk of cardiovascular disease. Linus Pauling’s specific therapy for cardiovascular and heart diseases is high dosages of two essential nutrients: vitamin C and the amino acid lysine. Vitamin C is required to strengthen the arteries so that the body does not try to patch them with “plaster casts” (atherosclerosis). Vitamin C improves brain function. Besides its well-known antioxidant activity, vitamin C is involved in the reduction of metal ions, and in the synthesis of the neurotransmitter norepinephrine from dopamine.

Wild-caught oily fish (like salmon): Marine fat is loaded with omega-3s and omega-6s, healthy fats that, ironically, can keep you from gaining weight. Enjoy low-mercury, wild-caught fish, such as salmon, cod, steelhead trout or halibut, 2-3 servings per week, to upgrade your body. It lowers your cortisol levels, increases lean body mass and improves vagal tone as measured via heart rate variability, as well as raises DHA and vitamin D levels, both of which are good for the skin and the mind.

Whole grains: Like everything else in your body, the brain cannot work without energy. The ability to concentrate and focus comes from an adequate, steady supply of energy – in the form of glucose in our blood to the brain. Achieve this by choosing whole grains with a low glycemic index (such as barley, oats, bulgar, quinoa), which release glucose slowly into the bloodstream, keeping one mentally alert throughout the day.

Avocados: Are extremely nutrient dense (which is good). The avocado is rich in an array of vitamins and minerals including calcium and magnesium as well as vitamins A, C and B. It contains more potassium than bananas and boasts the highest protein content of any fruit! According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, good fats are those that can lower bad cholesterol levels and are beneficial when consumed in moderation. Avocados contribute good fats to one’s diet, providing 5 grams of monounsaturated fat and 1 gram of polyunsaturated fat per 50g serving.

Tomatoes: Foods high in lycopene, like tomatoes, can help protect you against prostate cancer and may help prevent lung cancer, too. Cooked or processed tomatoes (like in juice, paste and sauce) may be more effective than raw ones. Researchers believe that heating or mashing tomatoes releases more of the fruit’s lycopene.

Kale: Kale is more than just an addition to your salad or smoothie. As a nutritional and antioxidant powerhouse, it is considered one of the healthiest foods in the world. In conjunction with a healthful diet, it may help reduce cancer risk and lower cholesterol levels. In addition, kale supports your body’s natural detoxification system and is well known for its anti-inflammatory effects.

Nuts: Nuts contain Omega-3s, unsaturated fats (that’s the good kind), fiber, protein … nuts are heart-healthy nutrition in the palm of your hand. Shoot for five 1-ounce servings per week.

Broccoli: The anti-inflammatory properties of sulforaphane, one of the isothiocyanates (ITCs) in broccoli, may be able to prevent (or even reverse) some of the damage to blood vessel linings that can be caused by inflammation due to chronic blood sugar problems. Broccoli is great for heart health as it contains fibers, fatty acids and vitamins that help regulate blood pressure in the body. This also helps in reducing bad cholesterol, hence leading to a healthy heart. Broccoli helps protect blood vessels from damaging as well.

Stephen M. Tann, MD, FACC, FSCAI, is an interventional cardiologist who has treated thousands of patients for cardiovascular disease. Instead of intervening late in the course of the disease when stents and bypass are the only options, Dr. Tann has chosen to refocus on prevention and root cause reversal of heart disease Dr. Tann will soon be accepting patients at The Change Place in Carson City. For more information, call 775-283-0699 or email