Anti-Aging With A Fruit-Rich Mediterranean diet

anti-agingPeople who closely follow the anti-aging Mediterranean diet — especially by eating fruit — may be more than a third less likely to develop age-related macular degeneration (AMD), a leading cause of blindness, according to a recent study.

Many studies have confirmed the health and anti-aging benefits of the Mediterranean diet, which emphasizes eating fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts, healthy fats and fish, and limiting red meat and butter.

The diet has been shown to improve heart health and reduced risk of cancer, but there has been little research on whether its benefits can extend to eye disease.

To determine this, researchers studied a Portuguese population to see whether adherence to the diet impacted people’s risk of AMD.

Their findings revealed a significant reduction in risk in those who ate a Mediterranean diet most frequently, and particularly among those who consumed more fruit and caffeine.

Researchers at the University of Coimbra in Portugal studied 883 people age 55 or older in the central region of the country between 2013 and 2015.

Of those, 449 had AMD in its early stages before vision loss, and 434 did not have AMD.

Researchers assessed their diets based on a questionnaire asking how often they ate foods associated with the Mediterranean diet.

The more they ate anti-aging foods associated with the diet, the higher the score, from 0-9. Those who closely followed the diet scored a 6 or greater. Their findings were as follows:

Higher diet adherence scores meant lower AMD risk

Of those who did not closely follow the anti-aging diet (scored below a 6), 50 percent had AMD. Of those who did closely follow the diet (scored 6 or above), only 39 percent had AMD.

This represents a 35 percent lower risk compared to those who did not adhere to the diet.

Fruits were especially beneficial

Researchers analyzed consumption of foods and found that people who consumed higher levels of fruit were significantly less likely to have AMD.

Of those who consumed 150 grams (about five ounces) or more of fruit a day: 54.5 percent did not have AMD and 45.5 percent had AMD.

Overall, people who ate that much fruit or more each day were almost 15 percent less likely to have AMD, based on an odds ratio calculation.

Caffeine and antioxidants also were protective

Researchers used a computer program to analyze the participants’ consumption of micronutrients, according to their answers on the questionnaire.

They found higher consumption of antioxidants such as caffeine, beta-carotene and vitamins C and E was protective against AMD.

Of those who consumed high levels of caffeine (about 78 mg a day, or the equivalent of one shot of espresso): 54.4 percent did not have AMD and 45.1 percent had AMD.

While caffeine is not considered part of the Mediterranean diet per se, consumption of caffeine-containing foods such as coffee and tea is common in Mediterranean countries.

The researchers opted to look at caffeine because it is a powerful antioxidant that is known to be protective against other conditions, such as Alzheimer’s disease.

“This research adds to the evidence that a healthy, fruit-rich diet is important to health, including helping to protect against macular degeneration,” said Rufino Silva, M.D., Ph.D., lead author of the study.

 

Top 10 Anti-Aging Foods

 Our Top 10 Anti-Aging Foodsanti-aging foods

  1. Onions: Contain a high level of quercetin, an antioxidant that helps strengthen damaged cells. Onions also help raise “good” cholesterol levels.
  2. Garlic: Promotes the growth of white blood cells, the body’s natural germ fighters. Both fresh and dried garlic have been shown to lower harmful LDL cholesterol and high blood pressure.
  3. Broccoli: Rich in magnesium and vitamin C, it’s one of the most powerful immunity boosters available.
  4. Quinoa: This grain-like seed is a complete protein food, which means it contains all the essential amino acids your body needs to build muscle and repair itself.
  5. Kale: Jam-packed with essential vitamins and minerals, it also contains lutein, an important nutrient.
  6. Wild salmon: A great source of omega-3 fats – the ultimate anti-ageing nutrient – plus loads of vitamin D and selenium for healthy hair, skin, nails and bones.
  7. Nuts: These contain healthy oils, fibre, vitamins, minerals, potent phytochemcials and the amino acid arginine.
  8. Spinach: Bursting with health benefits, it contains many phytonutrients and antioxidants, including vitamins K, C and E, folate, iron and carotenoids.
  9. Sardines: High in omega-3 fatty acids, they contain almost no mercury and are loaded with minerals such as calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium and zinc.
  10. Eggs: They contain high-quality proteins, essential minerals and every vitamin except C.

Foods to Avoid

Wheat, cow’s milk and soy products: These are difficult for many people to digest and are not recommended for people with poor immune systems. Raw organic butter, however, is digested better than other dairy foods and is rich in essential vitamins and minerals, and fermented soy products such as miso, tempeh and tamari are okay in moderation.

  • Processed food: Consumption of artificial ingredients and additives wreaks havoc on the immune system.
  • Sugar: This is linked to a range of illnesses, including heart disease, autoimmune diseases and diabetes. Sugar in all forms should be limited as much as possible, including fruit – stick to one or two pieces a day. Use the natural alternative stevia instead when cooking.
  • Salt: All salt contributes to high blood pressure and heart disease, so use sparingly. Opt for sea salt, as table salt contains anti-caking agents.
  • Man-made fats: Trans fats, found in packaged foods and fried fast food, increase the risk of heart disease. The best fats to eat are cold-pressed extra-virgin olive oil, seed and nut oils, and moderate amounts of coconut oil.