These 12 Anti-Aging Foods Might Add Years to Your Life

We're going way beyond green tea and blueberries!

Split peas

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Peas porridge hot, peas porridge cold, peas porridge in the pot nine days old: When it comes to living a long life, it doesn't matter how you eat your green and yellow legumes as long as you eat them. (Okay maybe not nine days old; food poisoning is no fun—and these are the myths you've got to stop believing about it.) Eating whole, cooked peas and other legumes—a staple of the Mediterranean diet—may actually slow aging on a cellular level, according to a study published in BMJ. Researchers speculate it's the fiber and antioxidants that give them their longevity powers. Here's how eating legumes can help with weight loss.

Walnuts

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Going nuts for nuts may be one of the best things you can do for your health. People who eat nuts, especially walnuts, three times a week or more enjoy two to three more years of life, according to research published in BMC Medicine. Nutty folks significantly reduced their risk of cancer and heart disease, the two biggest killers we face as we age. (Here are 30 simple ways to reduce your risk of cancer.) There is one caveat, however, as a second study found that the life-lengthening benefits did not extend to peanuts or peanut butter. Sorry PB&J fans! Walnuts are also one of a few foods shown to make you smarter.

Vegetable protein

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Don't panic, no one is saying you have to ditch your steak but doing a few meatless meals a week can extend the number of weeks in your life. Adding plant sources of protein can help extend your lifespan, especially if you suffer from kidney problems, according to a study done by the American Society of Nephrology. Foods like quinoa, rice and beans, soy, tofu, and buckwheat pack nearly as much protein per serving as meat does and you get the added benefits of fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Here's how to add more plant-based proteins to your diet.

Carrots

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Carrots are the quintessential health food so it's probably no surprise to hear they're really good for you. But did you know they can not only lengthen your lifespan but also help you look sexier doing it? A study done by the Universities of Glasgow found that the carotenoids that give carrots their bright orange hue can slow down the aging process and have the added bonus of making you more attractive to potential mates. Check out these other astounding health benefits of carrots.

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Sardines

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Omega-3 fatty acids have powerful longevity benefits, helping to reduce your risk of heart disease and diabetes, according to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. But while you can find these miracle compounds in all kinds of fatty fish, one of the best, and least-known, sources is sardines. Yes, just one serving of those tiny fish that come complete with eyeballs and laid out in a tin like they're sleeping (don't think about it) provides half of your daily value for omega 3s and nearly 400 percent of your daily requirement of vitamin B12, another nutrient tied to a longer life. (These are signs you're not getting enough vitamin B12.) And because sardines are tiny, they're at the bottom of the food chain, which makes them less likely to be contaminated with toxins than bigger fish like tuna and salmon. Here are more omega-3-rich foods that add years to your life.

Snails

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Snails haven't broken into culinary circles in America like they have in other cultures and that's unfortunate as we're missing out on a tasty and bioavailable source of iron, say Nigerian researchers. The tiny gastropods have around 4 mg of iron per serving—more than red meat—and having enough iron can help prevent anemia and extend your lifespan. Don't ignore these silent signs you might have anemia.

Coconut

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Eating a diet high in healthy fats, including the medium-chain fatty acids found in coconuts, slowed brain aging by protecting DNA from damage, according to a study done by the University of Copenhagen. While the study was done in mice, the researchers say it's possible the tropical fruit can similarly help humans to keep our brains young long into our golden years. Here's how to add more healthy fats to your diet.

Sauerkraut

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Sauerkraut and other foods rich in good bacteria, like yogurt, kefir and kimchi, can help you live longer, research shows. (Here are more foods packed with good bacteria.) The key is in the wide variety of probiotic strains found in fermented foods. The bacteria reduce inflammation, boost your immune system, and help your metabolism, which in turn adds more healthy years to your life, the researchers said.

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Sweet potatoes

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Sweet potatoes shouldn't be relegated to Thanksgiving side dish status but deserve a starring role in meals thanks to their life-lengthening properties, according to Kansas State University researchers. They reported that the colorful tubers (the eye-popping purple variety in particular) contain high levels of anthocyanin, a compound found to reduce cancer risk and increase lifespan. But don't even think about topping them with gooey marshmallows—sugar is one food known to shorten your life. These are the 12 best healthy foods for your heart. Hint: sweet potatoes are one of them.

Wine and chocolate

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Good chocolate and fine wine are two of life's greatest pleasures, and now scientists are saying these indulgences can actually help that life last longer. The pair are a great source of resveratrol, a powerful compound found to reverse signs of cellular aging, according to a paper published in Cell Metabolism. To get the full anti-aging benefits make sure to pick extra dark chocolate and red wine. (These 11 chocolates also have incredible health benefits!) This Valentine's day you can feel doubly good about surprising your honey with their favorite treats. Nothing says "I love you" like helping your partner live longer! (By the way, besides saying, "I love you," here are some other phrases you should be telling your spouse every day.)

Pomegranates

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From sending athletes to the Olympics to sending Persephone to hell, throughout time pomegranates have been accorded some extraordinary powers. But is all the hype true? The tart, red seeds may indeed hold the secret to, if not immortality, at least to a longer life, according to a new French study. Scientists say they have discovered that urolithin A, a molecule found in pomegranates, is transformed by microbes in the gut to enable muscle cells to protect themselves against one of the major causes of aging. At best they're one of the tastiest ways to boost longevity and at worst they probably won't send you to hell. You might not even be aware of these amazing pomegranate health benefits.

Nothing

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One of the most provocative pieces of research to emerge from recent nutrition science was a study published in Nature that found the best thing you can eat to extend your lifespan is... not much. Researchers found that people, animals, and even worms put on a calorie-restricted diet lived about 40 percent longer than their well-fed peers. Of course the case could be made that half-starving all the time would make those extra years a lot less pleasant so recent studies have focused on the concept of "intermittent fasting" or going without food for periods from 12 to 36 hours. Here's how to safely start intermittent fasting. This way you get some of the longevity benefits of calorie restriction without starving.

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