What if it was possible for you to add a handful of foods to your daily diet that could potentially help you live longer? You would do it, right?

Many researchers report the way to increase longevity is to reduce free radical damage which may lead to cell deterioration or even cancer.

In order to boost your body’s native defenses — or your immune system — you need to make sure you’re taking in a healthy amount of antioxidants to battle the harmful chemicals you come in contact every day in your environment — at school, home, the gym and work.

Elements such as vitamins C, E, beta-carotene, and selenium should be part of your mix. But like anything you add to your diet, you want to incorporate supplements in moderate dosages so you don’t head in the other direction and cause potentially more free radical damage.

Here are five foods we suggest:

1. Leafy Greens

The most nutritious and fiber-filled greens include kale, mustard greens, broccoli rabe, bok choy, Swiss chard and of course, good old broccoli and spinach. Be aware that when making leafy green choices — iceberg lettuce contains almost no nutrients and little fiber. Basically the more deep green you see the more nutrients they likely contain.

2. Olive Oil

Olive oil is one of the few widely used culinary oils. It contains about 75 percent of its fat in the form of oleic acid (a monounsaturated, omega-9 fatty acid). Research has long been clear about the benefits of oleic acid for proper balance of total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol and HDL cholesterol in the body.

3. Flaxseeds

Flaxseeds, also known as linseeds, provide a robust source of nutrients and vitamins including vitamin B1 and manganese as well as essential fatty acids like omega-3. A rich source of dietary fiber, flaxseeds are one of the oldest fiber crops in the world, cultivated in both Egyptian and Chinese cultures thousands of years ago.

4. Oatmeal

Oatmeal is one of the easiest meals to prepare daily that is proven to reduce blood pressure. Containing high sources of both potassium and calcium, it’s high in soluble fiber which has been scientifically proven to aid in heart health.

5. Green Tea

Researchers attribute tea’s health properties to polyphenols (a type of antioxidant) and phytochemicals. Though most studies have focused on the better-known green and black teas, white and oolong also bring benefits to the table.

Are you looking for other foods that will help you be healthier? The best way to be certain about what works for you is to ask your physician.
If you’re curious as to what other foods can be beneficial for you, reach out to your primary care physician for advice. If you are local to Southern California and are in search of a primary care physician, call (800) USC-CARE (800-872-2273) or visit www.keckmedicine.org/request-an-appointment/ to schedule an appointment.

By Lisa Loeffler