Want to stay young? Here's what you should and should not eat

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by Janet Little, Sprouts Market nutritionist / Special to azfamily.com

azfamily.com

Posted on July 23, 2012 at 10:52 AM

Updated Monday, Jul 23 at 11:21 AM

Foods to Limit:

Here are five examples of foods that you may want to limit to stay as young as possible, inside and out:

1. Potato chips and french fries. Really, anything that's deep-fried in oil is laden with trans fats, which contribute to inflammation throughout your entire body. You should keep trans fats to less than 1 percent of your daily diet, says the American Heart Association.

2. Doughnuts and sugary pastries. These pack a multiple whammy -- often they're high in trans fats and of course they're packed with sugar, which is also linked with inflammation. And they produce those wrinkle-generating AGEs Giancoli talks about.

3. Hot dogs, bacon, and pepperoni -- any processed meats. Sad to say, the meats on your favorite home-delivery pizza and ballpark dogs aren't doing you any favors. They're high in saturated fats and also contain nitrates, both of which contribute to the inflammatory process.

4. Less-than-lean red meats. The key with meat is to keep it lean to minimize saturated fats, which are big producers of inflammation and no friend of your arteries. The USDA's 2010 dietary guidelines recommends eating a variety of protein foods, including lean meats. The American Heart Association suggests that you keep saturated fats from all sources (not just red meat) to less than 7% of your daily calorie intake.

5. Alcohol. This is a tough one: Some alcohol may be good for you, but too much can absolutely age you prematurely. One drink per day for women (such as a 5-ounce glass of wine or 12-ounce glass of beer) and two for men.

Foods to Favor

So instead of "superfoods," here's a list of five foods that are key elements of the Mediterranean diet, and are examples of the kinds of foods you need to be getting more of:

1. Romaine lettuce. Plain old Romaine salad is high in vitamins A and C, antioxidant vitamins that help battle inflammation. Other dark leafy greens that should be on your list include broccoli, spinach, arugula, watercress, escarole, and endive.

2. Tomatoes. Along with watermelon, grapefruit, guavas, asparagus, and red cabbage, tomatoes are particularly high in the antioxidant lycopene.

3. Salmon. Along with other freshwater fish like tuna and herring, salmon is high in omega-3 fatty acids, which fight inflammation.

4. Lentils. Beans are one of Harlan's favorite sources of protein and are loaded with fiber and antioxidant vitamins. Try black beans, split peas, limas and pintos, and even fat-free refried beans.

5. Olive oil.

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