Ponce de Leon never found the Fountain of Youth, but scientists around the world still pursue the magic elixir. Until they find the miraculous substance that will stop the aging process, however, the safest, most effective way is to seek the many common foods, including tea and nuts, that fight inflammation. Scientists believe that chronic inflammation, which is caused by many factors including a lousy diet and smoking, triggers symptoms of aging.
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Add the following nine foods to your diet . They have special nutrients to help fight inflammation to help you turn back the clock:
• Green tea. People who drink more than three cups of green tea each day live longer, according to a Japanese study. Green and white teas contain generous amounts of EGCG, a powerful antioxidant linked to a lower risk of heart disease, Alzheimer's disease, and numerous types of cancer. Catechins, which are antioxidant compounds found in green tea, may also protect aging eyes from glaucoma.
• Fish. Fatty fish, like salmon, tuna, and mackerel, contain large amounts of omega-3 fatty acids that fight many of the diseases of aging, including cardiovascular disease. The American Heart Association recommends two servings a week.
• Nuts. A handful of nuts any kind of nuts daily — one to two ounces — contains liberal amounts of inflammation-fighting omega-3 fatty acids. One study found that those who ate nuts every day had 60 percent fewer heart attacks than those who ate nuts less than once a month. Nuts also help the production of elastin and collagen, compounds that keep skin looking young.
• Chocolate. Studies show that chocolate boosts brain function and lowers blood pressure. A German study found that small amounts of chocolate daily could reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke by almost 40 percent. Amounts as small as those in two Hershey's Kisses have been found to be effective, but most experts recommend 1 to 1.5 ounces of dark chocolate.
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• Coffee. Rich in antioxidants, one study found that three to five cups daily lowers the risk of dementia by 65 percent. Other studies have found coffee lowers the risk of many diseases of aging including heart disease, gout, prostate cancer, colon cancer, and Type 2 diabetes.
• Wine. A moderate amount of wine each day — two glasses — can protect against many of the diseases of aging including heart attack, Alzheimer's, diabetes, obesity, tooth decay, and several types of cancer. Wine can also protect skin, reducing the number of precancerous skin lesions called actinic keratoses.
• Berries. Raspberries, blueberries, and other berries contain antioxidants called anthocyanins which give berries their deep color and slow the aging process — the darker the berry, the higher the amount of antioxidants. A daily cup of fresh or frozen berries fights the inflammation that leads to aging.
• Tomatoes. Lycopene, the antioxidant that gives tomatoes their vibrant color, keeps skin looking young and may also lower the risk of heart disease and several cancers. A study found that men who ate 10 servings of tomato-based foods weekly reduced their risk of prostate cancer by 45 percent.
• Broccoli. Broccoli is loaded with vitamins and minerals, including chromium, that slow the aging process and boost brain function. The sulforaphane found in broccoli and other crucifer vegetables, including cabbage and Brussels sprouts, reduces the risk of heart attack and stroke as well as cancer. Some experts recommend two servings of crucifer vegetables daily.