Live to 100: 10 Diet Tips to Live Longer

By , Jan Sheehan, Fitness Magazine
Longevity is the new buzzword. You can't walk into a bookstore without tripping over a best seller about extending your life. With good reason: Centenarians are one of the country's fastest-growing demographic groups; in fact, the U.S. Census Bureau projects they'll increase almost sixfold by 2050. So what's the secret to living longer and healthier? "Good nutrition can extend your life by not just years but decades," says Richard Flanigan, MD, assistant clinical professor of cardiology at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center in Aurora and author of Longevity Made Simple. We've uncovered 10 strategies to help you tap the culinary fountain of youth.
1. Snack on Watermelon

Tomatoes steal the spotlight for being antioxidant powerhouses, but watermelon actually packs more cancer- and heart-disease-fighting lycopene, says Elizabeth Somer, RD, author of Age-Proof Your Body. Eating the juicy fruit also helps increase amounts of arginine, an amino acid that helps keep arteries healthy, a key factor in preventing heart disease, the number one killer of women.

Boost the benefits: Store uncut melons on the counter. "Watermelons produce more lycopene at room temperature than when chilled, probably because they continue to ripen," Somer says. Lycopene levels in unrefrigerated watermelons rose about 20 percent in two weeks (they didn't change at all in melons that were refrigerated) in a recent USDA study. 
2. Stalk Up

Asparagus packs vitamins A and C -- antioxidants that hunt down and destroy free radicals, the oxygen molecules that can "rust" your insides, increasing the effects of aging. This superfood is also one of the best sources of folate, a B vitamin that helps prevent heart disease and may lower your risk for colon cancer. Finally, asparagus is loaded with an amino acid called glutathione that fights premature aging by repairing damage to DNA and boosting immunity, according to Mao Shing Ni, PhD, author of Secrets of Longevity: Hundreds of Ways to Live to Be 100.

Boost the benefits: Quickly steam or stir-fry asparagus.

"The longer you cook it, the more nutrients you lose," Somer says. Boiling this vegetable can also cause it to lose vitamins. Folate is particularly fragile, she adds; it breaks down when exposed to air or extreme temperatures for too long.
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What tips have you learned from those who live a healthy long life? Does longevity motivate you to make healthy choices?

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I love watermelon, too. Will have to quit chilling, tho - have always liked it better from the fridge! Report
Studies of centenarians have not shown that they eat a bunch of asparagus and watermelon... This is the Medical-Model-Americanized-Eat-Food
-As-Medicine garbage that they keep pushing.

Studies show that there are three things you can do to live longer. You don't have to eat watermelon specifically, either.

1) Eat well - real food, not processed food
2) Do something active that you enjoy
3) Stay connected to others, doing something you enjoy.

In Okinawa, they eat better food - and have significantly fewer cancer deaths than mainland Japan and the US. They enjoy their work, and may continue working past 'retirement.' They are also very connected to their communities. Unlike in the US, where our elderly population tends to be hidden, Okinawans feel comfortable asking their neighbors for help, and stay involved with others.

Asparagus isn't your ticket to longevity, sorry. Drinking a glass of red wine per day isn't going to save you either. It's a complex system of living, and it most likely won't make your pee smell bad. Fitness Magazine paints a picture of food as vitamin, instead of food as food, and that isn't the whole picture. Report
Wonderful news,I love watermelon when i get it at the store some times
and can't wait to eat it,I did not know it was good nutrition,I was eating good stuff and did not know it. thanks. Report
I guess i have to buy some watermelons now Report
Great news....I love watermelon!! Report
who knew.... I love watermelon and asparagus
thanks for sharing Report
Now I feel better about eating all that watermelon =P Report
Yes, I want to have the strength and intellect to savor every day that I'm given - and to have as many as years as possible. I've seen first hand the difference that a healthy, clean diet and consistent fitness can make, so I'm happy to make choices based on health and longevity. Report
I love eating fruits. Veggies on the other hand I do love but have a hard time fitting them in to eat. I rather eat fruit than veggies. Report
i love watermelon. especially in the morning before mid day. Report
I love watermelon Report
My Aunt lived to be 85 and she told me something I have remembered: "People say well, you have to die from something, so live it up now while you can, but they don't realize that you can be SICK and suffer for years before you die from that "something." She had severe heart disease for 10 years before she died. Her doctor told her he didn't know how she was still going after all that time. I don't want to be in that situation. Report
Excellent article and so many of these foods I like! Report
I am hoping for an alternative to the melons because they make my mouth itch, but I'll take all the asparagus I can get! thanks for the great info!
I am hoping for an alternative to the melons because they make my mouth itch, but I'll take all the asparagus I can get! thanks for the great info!
Very interesting blog! Watermelon, who would have known? Research on the Okinawan's diet was also interesting. Basically, the article confirms I'm on the right track as it seems to sum up my(ou;r) lifestyle pretty well. While we don't know what's ahead for us, perhaps I've got a chance at staying around a few more years! Report
I knew I loved watermelons! Report
Longevity does motivate me to live a healthy lifestyle, exercise & eating clean is one way. Thank you for sharing this blog with us. Report
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