We’ve all marveled at those ridiculously amazing people who can still do back flips at age 90. Well, physician Steve Bowers, DO, and his wife Elizabeth Shimer Bowers went a step farther. They wanted to know what incredibly healthy people had in common. So they tracked down 70-year-old cheerleaders, 80-year-old skydivers, 90-year-old world record sprinters and dozens of other crazy fit-and-healthy people and asked them what they ate for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks—and then they wrote a book about it, called Secrets of the World’s Healthiest People. Their interviewees mentioned these foods, spices, and beverages over and over again.
AlmondsRich in healthy fats, fiber and protein, these nuts are made for more than snacking. Use slivered almonds as a topping for oatmeal or yogurt, add them to muffin recipes, or use almond flour in place of regular flour in pancakes.
Apple cider vinegar“Some people put apple cider vinegar in water and sip it throughout the day, but I hate the taste of it so I put it in a shot glass and throw it back like I’m doing a shot of tequila,” says Amy Morosini, whose health tips are featured in Secrets of the World’s Healthiest People. “Instead of sucking on a lemon afterward, I bite into a sweet piece of fruit, like a strawberry or tangerine. It’s a healthy shot everyone should do!”
Try Morosini's apple cider vinegar smoothie: Blend until smooth 1 cup ice, 1 cup baby spinach leaves, ¾ cup green grapes, ¾ cup pineapple chunks, 1 small apple, 1 small banana, ½ cup water, 1 tablespoon chia seeds, and 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar. Serves 1.
Excerpted from Secrets of the World's Healthiest People.
AvocadoWith more potassium than a banana, avocados are rich in heart-and-waistline healthy monounsaturated fats as well as hunger-suppressing fiber. You’re probably already on the avo toast bandwagon. But have you tried avo smoothies?
BeansPacked with fiber, beans do much more than help to keep you regular. They may also help to regulate blood sugar, improve cholesterol and bolster overall gut health. Add them to chili, mash them into dip, use them to replace some of the ground beef in tacos and other dishes, or sneak them into brownie and other dessert recipes.
Berries“Eating blueberries is the one thing I consistently do every single day,” says Kari Dugan, who seems to have stopped aging in her 30s. She’s almost 60, but she has the energy and body of someone much, much younger. Trust us. Try cooking blueberries with a touch of maple syrup and pouring over pancakes or waffles.
Black pepperBlack pepper houses powerful pro-health effects. In addition to being both an antioxidant and an antibacterial, black pepper helps with weight loss because it stimulates the breakdown of fat cells.
BroccoliLoaded with antioxidants, broccoli is a true powerhouse food. And if you think you hate broccoli, these recipes will change your mind.
CinnamonIt can help lower blood sugar and reduce inflammation. Plus, it's a great way to flavor your coffee without adding sugar. Speaking of coffee....
CoffeeIs coffee good for you? You bet: In addition to perking you up, coffee may help to drop your risk for heart diabetes, diabetes, and certain cancers. For an extra health boost, try kicking things up by adding spices to your coffee grounds before brewing. For every scoop of ground coffee add ¼ teaspoon of either ground cinnamon, cardamom, or turmeric to the filter.
Cookie doughShocked to see this on a list of the world’s healthiest foods? As it turns out, the world’s healthiest people have a surprising trait in common: they take a bite out of all of the flavor life has to offer, including dessert.Try Natalie Jill’s Ready-to-Eat Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough (Courtesy of Natalie Jill Fitness)
Combine 1/2 cup packed almond flour, 1/4 cup tapioca flour, 5 tablespoons cold, unsalted grass-fed butter, 1 tablespoon agave nectar, and 3/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract in a blender and blend until smooth. Stir in 1 ounce chopped dark (85% cocoa) chocolate and a generous pinch of pink Himalayan salt. Serves 4.
CuminThis wonder spice appears in many curry blends, and it takes center stage in kitchari recipes.
Heat 2 tablespoons ghee in a heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat. Add ½ teaspoon each black mustard seeds and cumin seeds. Cook, stirring, until the seeds begin to pop, about 3 minutes. Stir in 1 cup split mung beans (rinsed and drained), ½ cup basmati rice (rinsed and drained), 1 tablespoon minced or grated fresh ginger, 1 teaspoon salt, ¾ teaspoon ground coriander, and ½ teaspoon turmeric. Pour in 6 cups water and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to a simmer, cover, and cook until the liquid has been absorbed, about 20 minutes. Serves 4.
Dark chocolateWorld’s Healthiest person Asha Mittal, 65, avoids all sweets but one: chocolate. Learn why it's good for your heart and your waist.
GarlicThe active ingredient, allicin, may help to keep cholesterol levels low, protect your cells from oxidative damage, and normalize blood pressure and blood sugar. Raw, minced garlic offers the most health bang for your buck, says Dr. Bowers, co-author of Secrets of the World's Healthiest People. Add it to fresh homemade salsa, stir into ranch dressings, use minced garlic and olive oil as a topping for toast, or mash it into guac.
Game meatOne of the World’s Healthiest People, Mary Etter, lives almost completely off the land. She never buys meat. Instead, she raises chickens and she hunts – for deer (her primary source of protein) or pork from the wild pigs that roam her ranch.
GingerIn one study of 261 people with osteoarthritis of the knee, people who took ginger extract twice a day had less pain—and therefore, needed fewer painkillers—than those who didn’t take ginger. Ginger may also lower cholesterol, help prevent blood clots, and help control blood sugar in people with type 2 diabetes.
HoneyRich in antioxidants, honey provides a great sugar substitute in smoothies, oatmeal, marinades, or beverages.
OlivesAdopting the Mediterranean diet – which features olives, as well as nuts, vegetables, and fish – may be the most protective dietary move you can make, finds research.
PopcornFull of fiber and light on calories, popcorn is a great snack option. If you're feeling a bit wild, you can punch up your health benefits by eating pop caulicorn.
On a cutting board, pile ¼ cup chopped parsley, 1 small clove chopped garlic, ½ teaspoon lemon zest, and 1 tablespoon finely grated Parmigiano Reggiano on top of each other and chop all together until fine. In a large bowl, toss 10 cups air-popped popcorn while spritzing grapeseed oil with a mister. Add the gremolata andand ½ teaspoon salt and toss until coated. Serves 2.
Protein shakesUp until his death, Charles Eugster, 97, looked like a bodybuilder. His secret: the whey protein shake his downed after each workout.“In order to build muscle, you need a lot of protein, and in old age, your protein synthesis is reduced,” Charles told the authors of Secrets of the World’s Healthiest People before his death. “Protein supplements are a good way to make sure you get what you need.”
SalmonRich in anti-inflammatory fats, salmon makes a great stand alone dish as well as addition to any salad.
SpinachThere are few vitamins and minerals that are NOT in spinach. It’s rich in potassium, magnesium, iron, calcium, and vitamins B6, B9, E, C, and K.For a spinach-packed smoothie, blend 1 banana, ½ cup frozen berries, ½ cup baby spinach leaves, 1 scoop vanilla protein powder (or 1 tablespoon peanut butter) and 1 to 1½ cups unsweetened vanilla almond milk until smooth. Serves 1. – Recipe courtesy of Secrets of the World's Healthiest People
TurmericThis bright yellow wonder spice is an ancient natural remedy used for a range of conditions, including arthritis, digestive problems, inflammation, headaches, diabetes, and autoimmune disorders. Throw a dash of turmeric to your hot or iced latte. Add it to coffee grounds. Or blend turmeric with chickpeas to create a bright and delish hummus.
YogurtMurray Grossan hasn’t had a cold in 10 years – and he attributes that long wellness run, in part, to the yogurt he eats daily.Researchers are studying the ability of the probiotics in yogurt and other fermented foods to treat a range of conditions, from eczema to inflammatory bowel disease. “The live bacteria they contain seem to interact with the microbes in our intestines. These 100 trillion microbes produce vitamins such as B6, B12, and K2, they help fight bad bacteria such as E. coli and Salmonella, and they help keep the bowels moving (an important factor to people as they age),” says Dr. Bowers who interviewed Grossan for Secrets of the World's Healthiest People.
PicklesPickles and other fermented foods (like kimchi and sauerkraut) are loaded with probiotics, the good bacteria in your gut that impact your immune function, mood, digestion, and even your weight.
Tart cherriesTart cherries contain anti-inflammatory compounds that boost your brain health, ease stress, and help you fall asleep faster.
EggsEggs are healthy, despite the warnings you used to hear about them being high in dietary cholesterol. Eggs are good for your eyes, brain, and waistline, and since they're packed with protein, they'll keep you full between meals.
Chia seedsDon't be fooled by their small size: health benefits of chia seeds are huge, and include aiding digestion, building strong bones, and keeping your heart healthy.
TeaPeople worldwide have sipped tea for thousands of years because of its many health perks. Tea relaxes your muscles, soothes stomach issues, and may even help you live longer.