Eat More Vegetables
- Go Nuts Regularly eating nuts—and pretty much any kin—may help you live longer, according to several large studies. Most recently, a meta-analysis from Vanderbilt University linked nut consumption (especially peanuts) to a lower mortality risk. And according to a 2013 Harvard study that followed 119,000 doctors and nurses for 30 years, those who ate a handful of nuts every day were 29 percent less likely to succumb to heart disease and 20 percent less apt to die of any cause. More research has linked similar longevity benefits to specific kinds of nuts, such as cashews, pistachios, almonds, or walnuts. Although each varies slightly in exact nutrient makeup, experts say they’re all good bets, so mix it up, and shoot for a handful of nuts a day. (And that’s the size of your palm, not a gigantic fistful. The one caveat to nuts is that it’s easy to down four or five servings, and that high-calorie count may offset the benefits you get from their nutrients.)
- Dabble in a Semi-Vegetarian Diet A wealth of research shows that vegetarians outlive meat-eaters. This added longevity makes perfect sense, given that veggies tend to be low-calorie, low-fat, fiber-rich, and stocked with vitamins, minerals, and disease-fighting phytonutrients. But that doesn’t mean you need to give up the occasional steak or barbecued chicken—you just have to cut back on meat. A study of 450,000 people found that semi-vegetarians (those who got 70 percent of their food from plant sources) had a 20 percent lower risk of dying from cardiovascular disease, compared to those who got less than 45 percent of their calories from plants. Work more veggies into the dishes you already love, such as omelettes, homemade pizza, and stir-fry. Aim to keep your meat meals to two or three times a week, and make sure the meat you eat is lean, well-sourced, unprocessed, and not a jumbo portion.
- Add Mushrooms Mushrooms are nutritional powerhouses, packed with potassium, riboflavin, niacin, selenium, vitamin D, and fibre. They also contain beta-glucans, a specific type of fibre that tames inflammation and boosts immunity. Because of their nutrient-dense makeup, mushrooms have been shown to help lower cholesterol and ward of infections, illnesses, and even cancer. (Shiitake and a few other mushroom varieties are even being studied as a possible cancer treatment.) As with nuts, different types of mushrooms do vary slightly in nutrient content, but experts say any kind—even those basic white mushrooms—provide health benefits. Eat them on salads, put them in pasta sauces, or use a portabella as a burger substitute.
- Eat Cruciferous Veggies You’re looking for broccoli, cauliflower, kale, arugula, Brussels sprouts, turnips, and radishes—all proven to have several anticancer effects. Along with being solid sources of folate, fibre, and vitamins C, E, and K, cruciferous vegetables also contain glucosinolates. The compounds give these veggies their bitter flavor, and protect cells from free-radical damage and even deactivate other carcinogens. That likely explains why studies have shown that men who eat lots of cruciferous veggies have less risk of prostate and lung cancers.