These Are A Longevity Expert's Top 6 Foods To Slow Down Aging
In addition to the many lifestyle practices out there that support longevity (safely spending time in the sun, supporting mental health, and embracing social connection come to mind), incorporating nutrient-dense foods into your diet remains an effective method to support both your lifespan and healthspan. So when we got the chance to speak with longevity expert and Harvard geneticist David Sinclair, Ph.D., on the mindbodygreen podcast, we were eager to jot down his favorite picks.
Below, find the six items at the top of his longevity-minded grocery list:
As for the No. 1 spot, it's avocados for Sinclair: "If I could only eat one food, it would probably be avocados," he states definitively. He's not alone: Experts love this fruit for its healthy monounsaturated fat and fiber content, which help keep you full. Additionally, avocados are full of other nutrients like minerals, protein, soluble fiber, phytosterols, polyphenols, carotenoids, omega-3s, and vitamins B-complex, C, E, and K. These benefits work together to support brain, eye, and heart health (and more!) by balancing cholesterol1 and blood sugar levels.
Feel free to check out our favorite ways to consume avocado here.
Sinclair's second pick is another source of healthy fats: high-quality olive oil. "Very fresh, very tasty, with maybe a little bit of bread or gluten-free bread dipped in there," he explains. (Here's how to know if your bottle is fresh.) In terms of health benefits, olive oil contains high amounts of antioxidants, phytosterols, and vitamins2 and has been shown to support skin and brain health, as well as optimize cholesterol levels and blood pressure3. What's more, a recent study found a correlation between olive oil intake and increased longevity4.
And for those who, like Sinclair, enjoy olive oil with a slice of bread, we have some good news: Longevity expert, National Geographic fellow, and founder of Blue Zones Dan Buettner considers sourdough a "true longevity food."
Moving on to his veggie pick, Sinclair is also a fan of Brussels sprouts—specifically, "roasted Brussels sprouts, pan-fried, a bit of garlic and salt and pepper." This cruciferous vegetable is a great source of vitamins A, C, K, and folate (among others); minerals, including potassium; and fiber to keep you feeling satiated. Plus, Brussels sprouts can even support cell and immune health due to antioxidants like kaempferol5 and quercetin, respectively.
When it comes to preparation, they're incredibly versatile—check out these recipes for pizza and slaw for some inspiration.
We were a bit surprised to learn that cantaloupe makes the cut (an underrated add to the fruit bowl!). But according to Sinclair: "As a fruit, that's the most nutritious you can get." Its orange color comes from the carotenoid beta-carotene, which the body converts to vitamin A. Vitamin A provides a host of benefits, including immune, eye, skin, and reproductive health.
On a similar note: You can also get a fair share of vitamin A from supplements, as most quality multivitamin formulas include it in the mix. mindbodygreen's ultimate multivitamin+, for example, contains a combination of carotenoids (beta-carotene being one of them), as well as a host of carefully selected bioactive botanicals that provide further, incremental support for cellular longevity and vitality. Researchers have even discovered that people can improve their longevity6 by simply taking a daily, comprehensive multi.* Just had to weave in some extra information in case you want to support longevity from multiple avenues.
Perhaps less surprising than cantaloupe, blueberries are one of Sinclair's favorite snacks. Their antioxidants promote healthy skin aging7 and collagen production8, which is also aided by their vitamin C content (check out this Blueberry beauty smoothie!). They're also a good source of fiber, which helps maintain healthy blood sugar9 and cholesterol levels.
Lastly, blueberries are chock-full of anthocyanins (that's what gives them their blue-purple pigment), which play an important role in brain and overall health10, and research has even associated a link between anthocyanins and healthy aging11.
Sinclair rounds out his list with nuts, specifically cashews (his favorite) and Brazil nuts. He's a fan of these two because of their protein content (cashews boast 5.1 grams per ounce, while Brazil nuts contain 4 grams per ounce). In addition to protein, cashews provide copper and magnesium, while Brazil nuts are a top source of selenium (but make sure you stick to one to three12 to avoid consuming too much of the mineral).
Lastly, nuts are another excellent source of heathy fats like omega-3s and omega-6s.
If you're looking to support longevity through food, these six picks are a great place to start. And for more longevity notes from Sinclair, feel free to check out his other underrated tips.
Olivia Giacomo is mbg's Social Media Associate. A recent graduate from Georgetown University, she has previously written for LLM Law Review.