Many factors influence healthy aging such as diet, exercise, genetics, and environment. While we can’t control all of these factors, there are a few ways we can increase the likelihood of aging gracefully. According to the National Institute on Aging, “food is an important part of how people age.” Increasing the consumption of certain foods high in antioxidants has been shown to produce several health benefits that support healthy aging. What are antioxidants and what do antioxidants do and what are antioxidant benefits?
Antioxidants are molecules that work to protect the body from free radicals, which are substances produced by cells as the body processes food and reacts to the environment. While free radicals can help defend against infection and aid in cell division, too many of them can cause damage to our cells. When the body can’t effectively remove free radicals, it can cause oxidative stress, which can negatively impact the way our bodies function. However, we can help our bodies protect us from free radicals and increase the likelihood of aging well by consuming antioxidant-rich foods.
Because antioxidants work to remove free radicals, they can also decrease the risk of some diseases and health conditions. Experts suggest that antioxidants can protect us from premature aging, depression, anxiety, and even heart disease. Here are some of the other ways antioxidant benefits that help promote healthy aging in older adults:
Help prevent cancer
While researchers are still studying the relationship between antioxidants and cancer prevention, there is considerable research that suggests antioxidants from foods can reduce people’s risk of cancer. In fact, according to Federal Occupational Health, “considerable laboratory evidence from chemical, cell culture, and animal studies indicate that antioxidants may slow or possibly prevent the development of cancer.”
Reduce the risk of macular degeneration
Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the most common cause of permanent vision loss in adults over the age of 60. Some researchers suggest that antioxidants could lower your chances of developing the disease by up to 25 percent. Furthermore, antioxidants can help you keep more of your vision even if you’ve already been diagnosed with AMD. Antioxidants can also slow the progression of cataracts, which can help older adults maintain their vision for longer.
Reduce oxidative stress
Oxidative stress is associated with many health conditions such as cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s, and even memory loss. Researchers believe that the anti-inflammatory properties of antioxidants can help remove oxidative stress from the body and protect it against these health conditions.
Support mental health
Free radicals, when overproduced, can do a lot of damage to our brain, especially in the area of the brain associated with learning and memory. However, research has shown that when oxidative stress is reduced, the risk of developing mood disorders also decreases. Some researchers believe it’s possible to reduce depression and anxiety symptoms by consuming antioxidant-rich foods.
Antioxidant-Rich Foods for Anti-Aging Benefits
According to Healthline Magazine, antioxidants can be categorized in two ways—either water or fat-soluble. While water-soluble antioxidants perform their actions in the fluid inside and outside cells, fat-soluble ones act in cell membranes. While there are several different antioxidants, there are three that support many factors in healthy aging: Vitamin C is an essential nutrient that helps form blood vessels, cartilage, muscle and is also vital to our body’s healing process. Vitamin E plays an important role in protecting cells against oxidative damage while flavonoids can prevent the development of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and cancer. These antioxidants, among others, can be found in some foods. The following are nutrient-dense foods that are high in antioxidants and contain many health benefits:
Pomegranates. Pomegranates contain powerful antioxidants which help reduce the risk of heart disease and decrease cholesterol buildup.
Tips for Consuming More Antioxidants
If you’re not familiar with consuming foods that contain antioxidants, there are a few delicious ways to implement them into your diet. For example, adding berries to your cereal can add a boost of antioxidants that will help you fight disease and taste delicious. The next time you reach for a mid-afternoon snack, make sure to grab a handful of nuts that contain vitamin E and healthy fats. In addition, eating leafy greens at each meal will ensure you’re getting the vitamins and antioxidants needed to support healthy aging.
Aging Well at Maplewood Senior Living At Maplewood Senior Living, our culinary team only uses the freshest ingredients to prepare meal offerings that are packed with antioxidant benefits and healing properties. Residents have access to foods that promote healthy aging every single day. To learn more about our offerings or to schedule a tour, please contact us.
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