Anti Ageing Food
So what foods have the greatest anti ageing powers. There is convincing evidence that a Mediterranean style diet that is rich in fruit, vegetables and oily fish lowers the risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes, and may protect against some cancers and dementia. Then there are the beauty benefits. A large Australian study found those whose diets were rich in fruit, veg, nuts, beans, lentils and wholegrain bread had fewer wrinkles than those who feasted on fatty and sugary foods. So which foods have the greatest anti-ageing power?
According to scientists at the US National Institute on Ageing, those with the highest ORAC (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity) score – or antioxidant power – are more likely to keep you looking youthful. Beans, lentils, green leafy vegetables, fruit that’s red, orange-yellow or blue-purple, and dried fruit rank highest.
Blueberries have the highest ORAC score of all, so are good at preventing cellular damage. Like strawberries, raspberries, plums and blackberries, they’re also packed with anthocyanins, which protect against heart disease and cancer.
Oranges like clementines, kiwi fruit, peppers and broccoli, oranges are rich in vitamin C, which may protect against ageing by mopping up damaging free radicals. A British study of 4,025 women aged 40 to 74 found vitamin C-rich foods reduced the risk of wrinkles by 36%.
Green leafy vegetables such as spinach, rocket and watercress have high levels of lutein, which helps prevent age-related eye conditions – and may reduce wrinkles.
Most nuts are a good source of selenium, a potent antioxidant that reduces signs of ageing. Brazil nuts contain most – just two or three will provide your daily needs.
Chickpeas beans And lentils rank high on the ORAC scale, and may also help prevent certain cancers due to their high content of phytates and phytoestrogens.
A healthy calcium intake (with vitamin D and weight-bearing exercise) helps maintain bone strength and prevent osteoporosis. One (150g) pot delivers a third of your daily calcium needs (cheese, milk and almonds are also good sources.
The lycopene in tomatoes can help protect against wrinkles. University researchers found that adding 5 tablespoons of tomato paste to your diet daily boosts skin’s levels of pro-collagen (which keeps skin firm) and improves its ability to protect against UV rays by 33%.
Oats contain a soluble fibre called betaglucan that mops up cholesterol precursors and whisks them out of the body. Eaten daily, oats can help lower cholesterol and prevent blood vessels furring up. They’re also a source of silicic acid, needed to make the spongy cells that lie between the skin’s collagen and elastin, and which help reduce the appearance of lines and wrinkles.
Those who regularly use olive oil were 41% less likely to have a stroke, according to a French study of more than 70,000 over-65s. Its protective effect is thought to be due to its high levels of monounsaturates. Rapeseed oil is another healthy choice – it’s even lower in saturated fat than olive oil (7% rather than 15%) and has much higher levels of omega 3s (30% rather than 10%).
Salmon, sardines and mackerel are stocked with omega-3 fatty acids, which help lower blood cholesterol and lower your chances of a heart attack or stroke. They may also help prevent memory loss and alleviate inflammatory conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, as well as reducing your number of wrinkles.
Three things to try to avoid are
Sugar as each 50g rise in carbohydrate intake (the amount in two 250ml soft drinks) increases your risk of wrinkles by 28%, according to a British study. The link may be that molecules made from sugars and proteins that attack collagen and elastin, the fibres in the skin that keep it smooth, elastic and youthful.
Saturated fat – a large dietary study showed more skin wrinkling in the elderly was linked to a higher intake of meat (especially processed meats such as sausages and burgers), butter, hard fats and full-fat dairy products.
Alcohol increases blood flow near the skin’s surface and dilates small blood vessels. Over time, these can become permanently damaged, causing broken vessels on the skin’s surface and a flushed appearance. Alcohol-induced dehydration also makes skin more prone to fine lines and wrinkles.