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Age Well with Plants

Age Well with Plants

Fruits, vegetables, coffee, whole grains and nuts


Aging is a natural process that we can't escape, but we can make wise decisions to slow down its effects and avoid chronic illnesses. Our choices—including what we eat and how we move—can determine how our body ages.  One review published in Advances in Nutrition, suggests that following a Mediterranean-style, plant-based diet can help maintain DNA integrity which tends to decline over time. The good news is, if we support our DNA, keep it whole and strong, we can lessen the physical decline that comes with age. 


In this study, researchers dug into DNA sequencing, specifically that of telomeres and telomere length(TL)—repetitive DNA series at the end of chromosomes, crucial for protecting their physical integrity.  Usually they become shorter over time, resulting in decreased life expectancy and higher rates of chronic diseases. And this shortening is accelerated in conditions of stress and inflammation. Because plant-based foods are well-known for having antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects, investigators wanted to learn more about how consuming them can support TL.    


Another study in this review noted significant associations between higher consumption of nuts and legumes with higher TL. If this sounds good to you, you can support healthy aging with a one ounce serving or handful of nuts such as cashews, almonds or peanuts.  Other observational evidence showed positive association with unrefined grains and coffee too! 


The research also suggests that dietary carotenoids were positively associated with longer TL. Green leafy vegetables and colored fruits, provide carotenoids which are naturally occurring pigments that can’t be synthesized by animals. This means we have to eat them as part of the diet to get their benefits!  Include more in your diet with plant forward recipes like our Pineapple Chicken Stir Fry


Eating fruits and vegetables rich in antioxidants has many health benefits, including possibly countering telomere erosion. While more research is needed to understand how much of an impact a plant-based diet can have on these benefits and age-related conditions, current findings are promising. There is little downside, as there is already a lot of evidence supporting consuming 5 servings of fruits and veggies every day for overall health and well-being, in an affordable and safe way.


Published June 1, 2023

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