These Are the 6 Best Anti-Aging Foods, According to Experts

They’re even easier than collagen supplement smoothies.

You can't stop the clock from ticking forward, but science is increasingly showing that we can influence the pace of the physical effects of aging. Maintaining a healthy diet is one research-backed way we're able to boost our longevity.

"In general, you can't go wrong with the plant kingdom: fruits and vegetables, beans, nuts and seeds, whole grains, herbs and spices, tea, and so on," says Wendy Bazilian, DrPH, MA, RDN, the owner of Bazilian's Health in San Diego. Just remember: It's one thing to age 'long' and another to age 'well.' "Most people who desire to live a long life actually want to live a long and healthy (vital, active) life, rather than hitting a certain year-mark," says Bazilian. File that under words to live by.

Be wary of wellness-centric food trends and too-good-to-be-true products that claim to turn back time on our bodies. "There are many foods—so-called 'superfoods'—that have nutritional prowess," says Dr. Bazilian. "While there is research to support their role in health promotion and disease prevention, to me it's actually not enough."

She says that in order for a food to really make a difference in one's health, you have to eat it regularly—that is, enough for it to make a difference. "You can't just eat these foods once in a while (or a tiny portion for that matter) for them to have impact. It's the regular, sometimes daily, inputs from these foods that make it have real impact on aging well, anti-aging, and longevity."

In order to qualify as an anti-aging food, Bazilian says that—in addition to being nutrient dense and backed by research—it must be accessible, versatile, and appealing. With all of this in mind, here are the foods that really stand out in their ability to combat premature signs of aging.

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best-anti-aging-foods: blueberries
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Blueberries are an excellent source of vitamin C, fiber, and antioxidants.. Blueberries have undergone lots of research that shows impressive findings in promoting and preserving cognitive function (brain health) with age, promoting heart health, lowering your risk of certain cancers, and more, says Bazilian.

"When you look at a blueberry, its phytonutrients are looking right back at you: The deep blue color comes from anthocyanin, a key phytochemical and antioxidant." In addition to fighting aging-oxidation, the vitamin C in blueberries helps promote cellular protection and skin health as we age.

RELATED: The Top 7 Antioxidant-Rich Foods You Should Stock Up On

02 of 06


Whole and cracked walnuts on a table
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Walnuts are a real multitasker when it comes to longevity. A study published in 2020 found that women who regularly consumed nuts, particularly walnuts, at midlife were more likely to age healthfully compared to those who didn't eat nuts. ("Healthy aging" was defined as having no chronic diseases, reported memory impairment, and physical disabilities, as well as having intact mental health after the age of 65.)

Walnuts also play an important role in heart health. "The first research on cardiovascular health and walnuts was published over 25 years ago in the New England Journal of Medicine, and since that time, there have been dozens and dozens of studies on heart health," says Bazilian.

A meta-analysis of 26 trials on heart health has shown that walnuts help lower your total cholesterol (particularly LDL "bad" cholesterol) and triglycerides, help manage healthy blood pressure, and contain plenty of anti-inflammatory phytochemicals.

Lastly, cognitive health is key to longevity: Many studies have demonstrated that walnuts and their synergistic nutrients and phytochemicals—the omega-3 fats, fiber, protein, and polyphenols, plus other minerals and vitamins—may help delay the onset, slow the progress, and maintain cognitive health as we age. "This is a big anti-aging goal," says Bazilian. "We want to live well as well as live long, and cognitive health is critical."

03 of 06


Mason Jar Iced Tea
Grace Elkus

Indeed, the second most consumed beverage in the world next to water packs endless anti-aging benefits. Tea is hydrating and filled with the inflammation-fighting antioxidants known as phytochemicals (EGCG and other catechins, flavonoids, and theanine, to name a few).

"According to the most comprehensive findings to date on tea consumption and heart disease, incorporating two to three 8-ounce cups of unsweetened green or black tea per day may lower the risk of death from heart disease by about 8 to 12 percent," explains Taylor C. Wallace, PhD, CFS, FACN, principal and CEO at the Think Healthy Group and an adjunct professor in the Department of Nutrition and Food Studies at George Mason University.

"The research also found the aging population (65 years and up) may benefit the most, with each cup of tea potentially lowering the risk of death from heart disease by 10 percent." When ingested consistently, tea promotes heart health by lowering plasma TC and LDL levels and slowing the progression of coronary artery calcium compared to non-tea drinkers.Incorporating unsweetened tea into one's daily diet is an easy approach to potentially improving life expectancy.

RELATED: There Are Many Types of Healthy Tea, but These Are the 4 Dietitians Love Most

04 of 06

Beans and Legumes

Baked Eggs with Beans and Lamb Sausage
Make sure there's some crusty bread on the table to sop up all the tomato-y goodness in this lamb-and-egg dish. It's a non-traditional way to serve lamb for Easter, but just as delicious. Get the Recipe: Baked Eggs With Beans and Lamb Sausage. Greg DuPree

Beans are one of few foods that straddle two food categories: carbs and protein. "They're a major part of the Mediterranean diet, which is one the healthiest styles and prevalent in regions where people live long and well lives," says Bazilian.

"Legumes are a significant contributor of plant-based protein and have been shown to reduce the risk of major chronic diseases and promote health and longevity. They're filled with phytonutrients, vitamins, minerals, fiber that helps the heart and gut, blood sugar stability, certain cancers risk, healthy weight management, and more."

Beans are extremely versatile. Kidney, black, red, fava, garbanzo, cannellini, or any other type are easy to add to soups, salads, stews, lasagna, or casseroles; you can also mash them with herbs and spices as a dip for vegetables. Even canned, as long as they're low in sodium and rinsed (this removes 40 to 50 percent of the sodium), they're easy to eat, inexpensive, and rich in nutrition.

05 of 06

Herbs and Spices

Baked Eggs With Parmesan and Herbs
Does Mom prefer a sweet treat for breakfast or crave something savory? Play to her preferences, and if it’s protein she likes, load up her plate with eggs, yogurt, or meat, along with fresh fruit. (But give the waffle-lover a waffle, of course!). Danny Kim

"I like to think of herbs and spices as an anti-aging food group," Bazilian says. "Their day job is to provide flavor, which is the number one factor driving food decisions, even before convenience and health. By making other nutritious and anti-aging foods taste delicious, they're actually doing double-duty."

Basically, herbs and spices make healthy ingredients (like vegetables, fish, and plant-based protein sources) taste better—plus they help us reduce our salt and added sugar intake, which we need to limit and contribute to healthy aging and reduced inflammation.

We're seeing important research emerging on the phytochemical, anti-inflammatory, and other unique attributes of herbs and spices themselves, too. They're also another prominent part of the Mediterranean diet, which has the closest relationship with living long and living well.

A few of our favorites? Ginger (known for its anti-inflammatory and anti-nausea effects), rosemary, cinnamon, turmeric (strong anti-inflammatory properties), and red pepper.

06 of 06


The Freshest Winter Produce to Cook With: Pears
Franck Bichon/Getty Images

In a recent study published in Neurology, the consumption of fruits, vegetables, tea, and wine had beneficial cognitive effects among participants of the Rush Memory and Aging Project. But specifically, a higher dietary intake of the flavonols found in pears, leafy greens, broccoli, oranges, tomatoes, beans, olive oil, tea, and wine was associated with a reduced risk of developing dementia associated with Alzheimer's disease.

Also, according to Amy R. Kweller, MS, RD, the soft texture of ripe pears may ease digestion, and the high fiber content benefits gut, cardiovascular, and overall health as we age.

RELATED: 5 Healthy Reasons to Pack More Pears Into Your Diet

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