The easiest way to improve your health is to attach a good-for-you habit to something that you do every day without even thinking about it—like eating! So the next time you’re are food shopping, stock up on foods that pack anti-inflammatory and anti-aging properties, as well as fat-fighting antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. These options are delicious, versatile, and will make you feel and look great. Lean more about them in the forthcoming book 20 Pounds Younger.
1. Maple Syrup
The real deal—tapped from a tree, not a cornstalk—boasts some serious anti-aging benefits. This sweet natural sap is loaded with antioxidants, immune-boosting zinc, and anti-inflammatory properties. But drizzle sparingly; the sticky stuff is thick with sugar. Limit yourself to one tablespoon, or try our recipe for maple-glazed Brussels sprouts as a way to naturally sweeten the veggies. (Make sure it’s a natural one)
They might look silly over your eyes, but there’s nothing funny about the health benefits that organic cucumbers provide your whole body. Researchers from the Salk Institute for Biological Studies found that fisetin, a flavonol naturally found in cucumbers, prevents progressive memory and learning impairments linked to memory loss and Alzheimer’s disease. As a snack, the superfood’s skin is loaded with silica, an essential component for healthy connective tissue that aids muscle repair and supports circulation around ligaments, cartilage, bone and skin cells. And it doubles as a topical treatment—slice it up and place under your eyes to reduce swelling, pit it on irritated skin to ease sunburn, or apply it on the back of your thighs to decrease the appearance of cellulite.
3. Coconut Oil
An International Journal of Dermatology study found using virgin coconut oil every day for seven weeks boosts skin hydration by 32 percent in people with mild to moderate eczema. And it smells amazing!
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4. Flowers (Or Leafy Greens)
Flowers are great for centerpieces and even better on your plate! A new study published in the Journal of Food Science finds that edible flowers are rich in phenolic and age-defying antioxidants like gallic acid, chlorogenic, and rutin. Researchers reported edible flowers, such as rose petals, are correlated with anti-inflammatory activity and reduced risk of developing cardiovascular disease and certain cancers. Can’t find edible roses at your local Piggly-Wiggly? Here’s another idea: Make this Mejool dates with rose-almond paste. Even easier: Buy more leafy greens, like kale, spinach, dandelion, and chard, which provide similar phytochemicals to flower petals—along with calcium and fiber.