The Surprising Secret to a Longer Lifespan

vegetables-1319821_1920Want to live longer and healthier? How many advertisements do you see with that question or a similar one? Too numerous to count, right?  And, many times the reader is encouraged to purchase some magic elixir or supplement that is guaranteed to be the fountain of youth.  The truth is, is that there’s no such thing. But, there is something easy (no miracles needed) that you can do every day that can have a truly positive effect on your longevity. Ready for the secret? Eat more carotenoids.

Carotenoids are the orange, yellow, and red pigments in fruits and vegetables. They’re present in green leafy veggies too, but the chlorophyll they contain hides the pigment from the carotenoids. And, they do more than just provide gorgeous color. Research shows that higher carotenoid levels circulating in the blood protect your telomeres from damage which can lead to accelerated aging and disease.  Telomeres are little cap-like DNA structures at the ends of your chromosomes. You can read more about them here.

It’s easy and delicious to up your daily carotenoid consumption. Here is a list of five of the most vital dietary carotenoids and foods that contain them to help get you started:

Alpha-carotene: orange and green vegetables such as pumpkin, carrots, and collards

Beta-carotene: orange and green vegetables such as sweet potato, carrots, spinach, and collards

Lycopene: red/pink fruits and vegetables like tomato, guava, grapefruit, and papaya. By the way, research show that the lycopene in cook tomatoes is even more bio-available than in raw tomatoes. Pasta night anyone?

Lutein and zeaxanthin: leafy greens such as kale, spinach, mustard greens, turnip greens, and collards

Beta-cryptoxanthin: orange/red fruits and vegetables such as butternut squash, persimmon, papaya, tangerine, and red peppers

To date, there are over 600 known carotenoids. When you eat the carotenoid-rich foods listed above, you get literally hundreds of them in your diet. So, up your fruits and vegetables. This is the real secret to the fountain of youth.

To your good health!

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