Legend states that on April 2, 1513, Spanish explorer Juan Ponce de León was the first European to discover modern-day Florida when he traveled on a quest for the mythical "Fountain of Youth." While modern science has proven that there is no mystical fountain or body of water that can reverse or slow down the aging process, there are many steps people can take to age well and prolong their lives.
Eating the right foods is one way to age well. According to Ralph Felder, M.D., Ph.D., coauthor of "The Bonus Years Diet," reversing the aging process internally is more difficult than outward cosmetic changes. But the right foods can go a long way toward increasing both life expectancy and quality of life. Those who want to employ diet to increase their life expectancy may want to start adding more of the following foods to their breakfast, lunch and dinner plates.
• Broccoli, grapes and salad: According to Health magazine, researchers have found that compounds in these three foods boast extra life-extending benefits.
• Berries: In addition to their abundance of antioxidants, berries have other benefits. A 2012 study from Harvard University found that at least one serving of blueberries or two servings of strawberries each week may reduce the risk of cognitive decline in older adults.
• Fruits and vegetables: Produce is good for the body because it's low in calories and high in fiber, vitamins and other nutrients. Numerous studies have indicated that diets plentiful in fruits and vegetables help people maintain a healthy weight and protect against cardiovascular disease.
• Whole grains: Whole grains pack a lot of nutrition into a low-calorie food. Whole grains help protect against type 2 diabetes, and researchers at the University of Texas Health Sciences Center found study participants whose diets included plenty of whole grains and fruit cut their heart disease risk by almost half compared to those whose diets favored meat and fatty foods.
• Red wine: A glass a day for women and no more than two glasses daily for men can be beneficial. Moderate consumption of red wine has been shown to slow age-related declines in cardiovascular function, according to the American Heart Association.
• Fiber: Increase your fiber intake for a longer life. Research from The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition finds that the more fiber you include in your diet, the lower your risk of coronary heart disease. The daily recommendation is 25 to 35 grams.
While there may be no such thing as the fountain of youth, a healthy diet can help men and women prolong their lives.