If you want to defy each passing year while promoting more youthful hair, nails and skin, the below 7 foods will help you stock up on some of the most powerful anti-aging nutrients around.
1. Olive Oil- Not only do the monounsaturated fats contained in olive oil support healthy arteries and a healthy heart, but olive oil also contains polyphenols, a potent anti-oxidant that may help prevent a number of age-related diseases. What is recommended is organic extra virgin olive oil for the most anti-aging bang for your buck.
2. Red Wine- That's right, a glass of wine daily may indeed have a positive effect on your health due to its resveratrol content, a unique anti-oxidant that can help fight against diabetes, heart disease, and age-related memory loss.
3. Beans- The unique proteins in beans thicken and strengthen your hair cells, so you can enjoy a full head of hair as you lengthen your years.
4. Brazil Nuts- Brazil nuts are rich in selenium, a mineral which aids in the production of the anti-oxidant glutathione to help slow down the skin aging process. Just 2 nuts a day will provide you with enough selenium to reap its anti-aging benefits.
5. Tomatoes- Tomatoes are rich in lycopene, which has been shown to support heart health and healthy cholesterol levels as you age. Lycopene also acts as a natural sun block to keep skin youthful and protected from harmful UV rays.
6. Raspberries and Blueberries- These two berries contain important anti-oxidants to help offset inflammation and oxidative stress that contribute to skin aging and wrinkles. Just one serving of either of these berries contains more anti-oxidants than 10 servings of most other fruits and vegetables.
7. Organic Eggs- Despite the bad rap eggs get because of their cholesterol content, which is based on completely erroneous science, eggs are rich in biotin and iron which help to promote healthy, youthful skin and hair.
So there you have it, not only are these foods good for a healthy body inside, they also are healthy for the outside as well.
Olive oil is one of the oldest (and most revered!) edible oils out there, with culinary uses dating back to at least 1000 BC, and other uses scrolling back even further (such as anointing priests and kings). Not to mention, it's versatile and delicious (olive oil ice cream, anyone?). Combined with mounting research suggesting olive oil is cardioprotective, it's no wonder that is one of the least controversial fats out there--given the green light by the paleo community, vegans, vegetarians, low-carbers, the Harvard School of Public Health, and even the USDA. Not many foods can claim such widespread acceptance!
But, there is one area of ongoing debate when it come to olive oil: cooking. Because it's composed of mostly unsaturated fat, which is less likely chemically stable than saturated fat, ;many voices in the health community are claiming olive oil can become damaged when heated and lose its famed health benefits. In fact, some of the more extreme claims are that heated olive oil becomes legitimately toxic and can contribute to heart disease and cancer. So, should we reserve olive oil for cold dishes only and nix it for cooking? As always, let's look past the gossip and go straight to the science to find out!
WHAT'S THE PROBLEM??
Along with its high monounsaturated fat content, olive oil contains 1.4 g of polyunsaturated fat (PUFA) per tablespoon (mostly in the form of linoleic acid), which is about 10% of its total fat content. Like all polyunsaturated fats, linoleic acid has multiple double bonds that are vulnerable to oxidation, especially when exposed to high temperatures. Likewise, monounsaturated fat contains a single double bond, which makes it less heat-stable than saturated fats (though a definite step up from PUFAs) on the oxidation front.
So, in theory, we might expect olive oil to get pretty damaged when we expose it to heat on the stove. And with some reports of an olive oil smoke point as low as 250 degrees F, this would seem to provide corroborating evidence that olive oil should never be heated. The molecular damage from heating olive oil would erase many, if not all of its beneficial properties and even make it somewhat hazardous to consume (since oxidized lipids in your diet can contribute to oxidized lipids in your blood--a big factor in heart disease). Scary, right? Luckily for olive oil fans, the science shows something quite different!!
WHAT THE RESEARCH SHOWS
A number of studies have been conducted on olive oil to assess the effects of cooking on its structure and nutritional content, as well as what happens in humans after olive oil is ingested.
Across the board, the research shows that even with a fair amount of heat exposure, extra virgin olive oil resists oxidation better than many other cooking oils. In one study, it took over 24 hours of frying before olive oil generated enough polar compounds to be considered harmful. In another study, even after 36 hours of cooking, olive oil had retained most of its beneficial vitamin E content.
In fact, high quality, low acidity, extra virgin olive oil can have a smoke point as high as 410 F. That's higher than most cooking applications and makes olive oil (at least, the good stuff) more heat stable than many of our other go-to cooking fats!
The magic words here, though, are "extra virgin", refined olive oils start to degrade in heat faster than their unrefined counterparts, and are overall more susceptible to oxidation (those are the ones with the low smoke point). The reason is due to extra virgin olive oil's high content of antioxidants that protect the oil from damage in the face of heat or other oxidants. High-quality olive oils are very rich in at least 30 phenolic compounds with antioxidant activity--particularly oleuropein, hydroxytyrosol, tyrosol--as well as alpha-toccopherol, an important form of vitamin E in the presence of heat, explaining why even sustained cooking times don't obliterate the oil's nutritional value.
In fact, those same beneficial compounds that protect olive oil from oxidation also help protect human LDL particles from damage. A number of trials have shown that after consuming olive oil, LDL from people's serum takes longer to oxidize and is more resistant to oxidation, suggesting a major benefit for heart disease risk. So, whatever potential harm could come from olive oil's relatively less-stable structure, compared to saturated fats like ghee and coconut oil, it appears to be more than compensated by its awesome phytonutrient content!
GETTING THE MOST OUT OF YOUR OLIVE OIL
In order to get olive oil's powerful antioxidant properties, and therefore avoid some of the hazards of its more delicate chemical structure, quality is key! And unfortunately, obtaining high-quality olive oil isn't always straightforward. Even brands labeled "extra virgin" can vary wildly in freshness, phenol content, and linoleic acid level, and the olive oil industry is notorious for deceptive labeling (the book Extra Virginity by Tom Mueller chronicles the whole saga).
So, how do you choose the best olive oil? A few simple tips can help:
* Look for brands that list a harvest date on the bottle, which will tell you when the olives themselves were picked. The more recent the date, the better (no more than 12-18 mo)!
* Always choose oils in dark glass bottles--never plastic or clear ones.
* Oils that were imported from other countries are more likely to be deceptively labeled and even cut with non-olive vegetable oils, so look for more local oils, especially ones from California, or domestic companies that are transparent with their Mediterranean sources and production practices,
* When tasting the oil, it should be pungent and peppery, even stinging the back of your throat a bit--that's a sign of a high polyphenol content.
* Make sure the label says "extra virgin" and not refined.
* Fresher is better. Unlike vinegars or wines, olive oil does not get better with age.
Equally important is taking care of your olive oil so that it doesn't oxidize before you even get to use it! For best results, store you olive oil in a cool, dark place away from heat and light. Even high-quality, properly stored olive oils can start to degrade after four to six months, so purchase your oils in smaller bottles o make sure you finish each one up while it's still fresh. And, even though olive oil may be relatively stable when heated, keep in mind that any fat will eventually get damaged from high temperatures and that high-temperature cooking can destroy some nutrients in the other ingredients you're using--so limit frying in favor of gentler cooking methods, like sauteing.
Go through the fine print of the omnibus spending bill just passed by Congress, and you'll see that the 2015 Dietary Guidelines, scheduled for release in--you guessed it--2015, have been pushed out to 2016. You wouldn't think that the government's efforts, every five years, to help Americans eat more healthfully would turn into a political football. But when its appointed scientists reviewed the literature on meat and health, for example, they did something quite radical. They said what they meant with no equivocations: Anericans should eat less meat.
As if that were not radical enough--previous committees had pussyfooted with such euphemisms as "choose lean meats to reduce saturated fat'--this committee insisted on an additional reason beyond health: environmental considerations.
The result? Uproar.
Arguments like the ones over the Dietary Guidelines, fueled by lobbyists, politicians and agenda-driven groups, make diet advice seem maddeningly inconsistent, but the fundamentals haven't changed much at all.
It's time to take back the process, so we're going rogue and issuing our own Dietary Guidelines, untainted by industry lobbying, unrestricted by partisan politics. Here, in six easy steps, is our advice for the new year: what we think dietary guidelines ought to say.
1. Eat more plants. You heard it from your grandmother. You heard it from Michael Pollan. Now you hear it from us: Eat your vegetables. Add fruits, beans and whole grains, and the wide-ranging plant category should make up most of your diet. Variety is the key. Plants offer us such an astonishing range of roots, stems, leaves, flowers, buds and seeds that there is bound to be something even the most jaded vegetable skeptic can love.
2. Don't eat more calories than you need. Although on any given day it's hard to tell whether you're doing that, over the long term, your scale is a sure-fire indicator. If the pounds are going up, eat less.
Let's pause here for the good news. If you follow our first two guidelines, you can stop worrying. Everything else is fine-tuning and you have plenty of leeway.
3. Eat less junk. "And what's junk?" We have faith that you know exactly what junk is. It's foods with lots of calories, plenty of sugar and salt, and not nearly enough nutritional value. It's soda and sugary drinks. It's highly processed, packaged foods designed to be irresistible. It's fast food. You know it when you see it. When you do, don't eat too much of it.
4. Eat a variety of foods you enjoy. There is research on the health implications of just about any food you can think of.. Some, such as fish, may be good for you. You should eat others--such as meat and refined grains--in smaller amounts. The evidence for most foods is so inconsistent that you should never force yourself to eat them if you don't want to, or deny yourself if you do. If you love junk foods, you get to eat them, too (in moderation, of course). You have bought yourself that wiggle room by making sure the bulk of your diet is plants and by not eating more than you need.
As a journalist (Talmar) and a scientist (Marion), we're very much in favor of science. But in this situation, the food industry's frequent calls for "science-based" guidelines really mean, we don't like what you said."
Arriving at truths about human nutrition isn't easy. We can't keep research subjects captive and feed them controlled diets for the decades it takes many health problems to play out. Nor can we feed them something until it kills them. We have to rely on animal research, short-term trials and population data, all of which have serious limitations and require interpretation--and intelligent people can come to quite different opinions about what those studies mean.
5. Find the joy in food. Eat mindfully and convivially. One of life's great gifts is the need to eat, so don't squander it with mindless, joyless consumption. Try to find pleasure in every meal, and share it with friends, relatives, even strangers.
6. Learn to cook. The better you cook, the better you eat. There are days when cooking feels like a chore, but there are also days when you find profound satisfaction in feeding wholesome homemade food to people you love. And foods you make at home are worlds apart form foods that manufacturers make in factories. No home kitchen ever turned out a Lunchable.
If you go out in the world armed only with these guidelines, you'll do great. Sure, there's much more to know, if you want to know it. We've forged careers writing about food and nutrition, and either one of us could talk micronutrients until you eyes glaze over. But these few basics are all you need to make good food decisions. Choose foods you like, cook them and enjoy them.
The Washington Post
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