Preventing Aging with Vegan Food

Stop dreading birthdays and turn back the clock with a fruit- and veggie-filled diet.

While we have yet to crack the code to the fountain of youth, there are some sneaky ways to ensure you'll get carded a little longer than your omni friends. As PETA's sexiest vegetarian over 50 Mimi Kirk proves, 70 really can be the new 20. Here's how to maximize the anti-aging benefits inherent in vegan foodstuffs.

Vitamin C
Nothing gives away your age more than wrinkles—or a bad botox job. But instead of using expensive creams that work from the outside, try something that works from within. Vitamin C supports the synthesis of collagen, the structural protein in our tissues that makes up 75 to 80 percent of skin, and collagen breakdown is responsible for the wrinkles that seem inevitable. With vitamin C abundant in countless plant foods from cabbage and potatoes to citrus and pomegranate, some hypothesize that diets packing seven to nine servings per day of fresh produce may help skin retain its elasticity.

Taste the Rainbow
Antioxidants prevent the formation of free radicals, which are unstable particles produced in the body that can damage cells and lead to a whole host of health problems. Without antioxidants, these harmful particles accumulate over time. If you want to avoid this, just think color! Blueberries' rich hue reveals they are full of flavanoids that fight free radicals. Bright orange carrots and sweet potatoes have high levels of beta-carotene, which is known to promote healthy skin, eyes, and cardio health. Ruby red tomatoes have lots of lycopene, a compound that protects the arteries.

Got Calcium?
Bone loss becomes a major concern as the years progress. It is important for bones to stay strong so you can reduce the risk of osteoporosis and stay fit. What squashes an active lifestyle more than a broken hip? Calcium is an important mineral for bone health, and one great plant source is kale, which has more calcium per gram than cow's milk. And don't forget to up your vitamin D intake to help calcium absorption—15 minutes per day of sun exposure should be sufficient.

Stay Svelte
Maintaining a youthful figure is harder at 60 than it is at 16, because metabolism slows down with age. So pick foods that are full of nutrients but light on calories. Another way to stave off the pounds is to increase your fiber intake, because it keeps you fuller for longer. Luckily, fiber is available everywhere in whole fruits, vegetables, and grains. Try to incorporate beans into your meals for some soluble fiber that promotes digestive health.

Don't Fear the Fats
Fats derived from animal sources can speed up aging and add to health problems, but plant-based fats offer a great deal of benefits. Walnuts are loaded with alpha-linoleic acid, an omega-3 fatty acid that keeps your heart and brain functioning optimally. Avocados contain oleic acid, which works to improve cholesterol levels. This good-fat-filled fruit also has potassium and folate, which lower the risk of heart attack and stroke. While genetics play an important role, when it comes to aging, you are what you eat.

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