We can’t stop the clock, but it’s possible that by choosing the right foods in our diets, we can slow it down a little. The Most Effective Ways to Live Longer Cookbook features meals that attack what the authors refer to as the “Four Horsemen of Aging”: oxidative damage, inflammation, glycation and stress. When we choose meals that prevent these effects in our bodies, we can protect ourselves from getting old before our time.
The idea that our food can help us live longer is not a new one, and it’s seen in action in several parts of the world. These “blue zones” have a high life expectancy that’s attributed to the diet and lifestyle followed by their residents. People in Sardinia, Italy, for example, eat lots of fresh vegetables and healthy olive oil. Others in Okinawa, Japan drink plenty of green tea and eat fermented soy in moderation. We can take what these people already know — sticking to diets that are centuries old — and incorporate it into our own kitchens to improve our health.
Here are five ways that you can stay healthier — and perhaps live longer — by choosing the right foods:
1. Heart disease is the second leading killer of Canadians. Help keep your ticker in top condition with foods that prevent inflammation, like apples, onions and leafy green vegetables.
2. New research indicates that insulin levels can affect our brains — keep yours steady by choosing lower-glycemic foods like whole grains, including brown rice and quinoa.
3. We all know that we should get a good calcium intake in order to prevent osteoporosis, but did you realise that vitamin K, magnesium and vitamin D are also essential for bone health? Try kale for vitamin K, pumpkin seeds for magnesium and fortified milk for vitamin D.
4. Our immune system is the barrier between infectious invaders and our well-being. Keep it strong and in proper working order with red fruits and veggies, which are a good source of vitamin A, and citrus fruits for vitamin C.
5. The liver is our own personal waste treatment facility — it has the job of filtering out everything that we put in our bodies, deciding what’s waste and what’s useful. Keep it healthy — and by extension, keep you healthy — by loading up on detoxifying foods like fruits and vegetables full of B vitamins and vitamin C.
Omega-boost salmon and bean salad
Remember the saying “Beans, beans, good for the heart”? Well, it’s true. And it’s even truer when you combine beans with wild salmon. You get omega-3s from the fish — the best thing in the world for the heart and brain — and a ton of fibre from the beans. What could be bad? And if you’re wondering what mirin is, it’s a kind of rice wine used as an essential condiment in Japanese cuisine. (And it knocks out any fishy smell!) This light, no-cook dish has a nice Asian flair and is great for a summer evening dinner or a quick lunch anytime.
2 romaine hearts or 1 head Boston lettuce
2 tsp (10ml) toasted sesame oil
1 tbsp (15ml) raw sesame oil
1 tbsp (15ml) mirin
1 tbsp (15ml) unseasoned rice vinegar
Juice of 1 lime (about 2 tbsp or 30ml)
1 tsp tamari
¼ tsp salt
1 can (214g or 7.5 ounces) wild Alaskan salmon, drained
1 can (400g or 15 ounces) navy beans, rinsed and drained
1 cup (100g) cooked adzuki beans, rinsed and drained if using canned
¼ cup (25g) diced scallions, bulbs removed
1. Wash the lettuce and separate the leaves. Arrange leaves into a bed in a salad bowl.
2. In a large bowl, whisk together sesame oils, mirin, rice vinegar, lime juice, tamari and salt. Add salmon and break chunks apart into flakes with a fork. Add beans and scallions. Toss gently to combine well and spoon over lettuce bed.
Makes four servings
Per serving: 382 calories, 5g fat (10.9 percent calories from fat), 22g protein, 64g carbohydrates, 6g dietary fibre, 28mg cholesterol, 821mg sodium