It’s a hectic world out there with filled with pollutants and toxins. So, when it comes to your health, every little bit of nutrition helps! Today, so many foods on grocery store shelves can contain anything from man-made trans fats, to pesticide residue. While none of these pollutants should ever enter your body – they do!

In order to get the most out of every meal, aim to eat these top 7 foods proven to support your vitality, and longevity.

1. Spicy Peppers.

What’s life without a little spice? Adding peppers to your favorite main dishes, dips and spreads can really heat things up! As a good source of a phytochemical known as capsaicin, habanero chilies, Jamaica peppers, Thai peppers, cayenne pepper, Jalapeños and Anaheim peppers offer the most bang for your buck with the highest capsaicin content. Research has confirmed the efficacy of adding spicy peppers to your menu for a longer lifespan. (1)

2. Eggs.

Also known as nature’s perfect protein, eggs contain 18 of the essential and non-essential amino acids (the building blocks of protein). These include: tryptophan, threonine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, cysteine, phenylalanine, tyrosine, valine, arginine, histidine, alanine, aspartic acid, glutamic acid, glycine, proline and serine. (2)

This food isn’t just good for building muscles. The incredible egg also helps you to feel fuller for longer, to stave off cravings and unwanted weight gain. And that’s not all! Eggs also may help you to live longer. Because they contain so many different amino acids, research has shown they may help to lengthen your lifespan. (3)

3. Vegetables.

Your mother told you to eat your vegetables for a reason. And it’s a good one! Numerous studies have shown that a vegetarian diet is directly associated with a longer life – which isn’t too surprising. Vegetables are the best natural source of vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients needed for a healthy body, and a long life. Even if you aren’t ready to go vegetarian, adding more fresh vegetables to your plate is a great way to reduce your risk of an early death. (4)

4. Whole Grains.

Oatmeal, steel-cut oats, barley, brown rice, buckwheat, bulgur, and millet – oh my! These are all examples of whole grains. But what exactly does that mean? Whole grains are those that have not been processed, and therefore still contain all of the parts needed for your optimal health including the germ, endosperm, and bran. Researchers have found that eating more whole grains is directly linked to an inverse risk of chronic diseases, and cause-specific mortality. (5)

One recent study from the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health and Harvard Medical School found that just three servings of whole grains per day was able to cut the risk of early death, from any cause. (6)

5. Omega’s.

You may already have heard that fish oil is good for your health. But what you may not know is that there are other, more sustainable sources of omega-3’s (the active compound in fish oil). According to a 2013 study, omega-3 fatty acids are associated with a 27% lower risk of death, especially from heart problems in older adults. (7) Including a supplement like krill oil, add omega-3 rich foods as well, such as flaxseed oil, salmon, chia seeds, butternuts, hemp seeds, and walnuts.

6. Berries.

Looking for a way to sweeten up your oatmeal? Strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, and blackberries are all a potent source of a unique class of antioxidants known as polyphenols. Loaded with health-promoting nutrients, berries are one of the best ways to lower your risk of premature death. (8)

7. Greek Coffee.

Coffee is the best part of waking up. The smell alone is enough to get most Americans out of bed. But what about the health effects? Well, researchers have found that it may be the answer to longevity. In fact, one study showed that older inhabitants of a distant Greek island called Ikaria had one of the highest rates of longevity in the world. Their secret? A cup of boiled Greek coffee daily. (9) Results showed that 87% of study participants consumed at least one cup of this type of coffee every day. (10)

Want more resources about what foods to eat? Read on:

5 Foods to Burn Belly Fat

5 Mood-Boosting Foods

Sources:

1. Regular consumption of spicy foods linked to lower risk of early death. BMJ. August 4, 2015.
2. http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/dairy-and-egg-products/111/2
3. Protein Consumption Linked to Longevity. NIH Research Matters.
4. Vegetarian Diets Linked to Lower Mortality. NIH Research Matters.
5. Tao Huang, Min Xu. Consumption of whole grains and cereal fiber and total and cause-specific mortality. BMC Medicine 2015.
6. Zong G, Gao A, Ju FB, Sun Q. Whole Grain Intake and Mortality From All Causes, Cardiovascular Disease, and Cancer – A Meta-Analysis of Prospective Cohort Studies. Circulation. Published online June 13 2016.
7. Dariush Mozaffarian, MD, DrPH; Rozenn N. Lemaitre, PhD, MPH. Plasma Phospholipid Long-Chain ω-3 Fatty Acids and Total and Cause-Specific Mortality in Older Adults: A Cohort 8. Study. 2 April 2013. Ann Intern Med. 2013;158(7):515-525.
9. Raul Zamora-Ros, Montserrat Rabassa. “High Concentrations of a Urinary Biomarker of Polyphenol Intake Are Associated with Decreased Mortality in Older Adults.” J. Nutr., September 2013; 143: 1445-1450.
10. Gerasimos Siasos, Evangelos Oikonomou. Consumption of a boiled Greek type of coffee is associated with improved endothelial function: The Ikaria Study. Vasc Med, March 18, 2013.

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About the Author

Dr. Amy Lee

Dr. Amy Lee has board certifications in internal medicine, physician nutrition and obesity medicine specialty. She practices internal medicine with a heavy emphasis on nutrition, wellness and weight management. Her Clinical nutrition fellowship training at UCLA has allowed her to incorporate realistic lifestyle modification in all her medicine patients.