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The best super-foods for ageing health

Reading time: 12 minutes

Most of us admit that we hope to live a healthy life, well into our eighties and nineties, and hopefully beyond, provided we are able to remain healthy and active.

There is no one panacea for aging; however, a healthy, varied, fresh diet plus an active lifestyle, where possible, are more likely to lead to a long and vibrant life.

Certain foods are particularly high in nutrients that research has shown to be especially important for energy, renewal and anti-aging, and these are featured in my recipes.

Having suffered from osteoarthritis from about the age of 35, I know that eating healthily plus leading an active life make a huge difference to the condition.

However, the combination of eating healthily, watching my weight and taking daily energetic walks as well as getting out and about, meeting and greeting, really does assist in beating both arthritis and aging. In fact, at the moment, neither my husband nor I am on any form of regular medication.

So that you know exactly what you are eating, aim always to cook your meals from scratch, using plenty of fresh, health-enhancing ingredients.

Here are some of my favorite age-enhancing foods and a few tips about how they can counteract the health problems associated with getting older. Make sure to use them liberally in all your cooking.

Avocados A good source of vital fiber, each avocado contains nearly 20 vitamins and minerals. Trials are continuing to be carried out with avocado in conjunction with soy in relation to alleviating osteoarthritis.

Beetroot Dark reddish-purple-colored or yellow, naturally sweet beetroot is a great source of iron and folic acid. It also contains valuable nitrates, betaine and magnesium. Eaten regularly, beetroot may help to lower blood pressure and may also help to fight dementia.

Bell peppers Green, yellow, orange and red bell peppers are high in vitamin C, vitamin K, vitamin E and vitamin A, plus the minerals folate and potassium. Red peppers have the most nutrients as they remain on the vine longest.

Berries Eating berries may improve brain health and help to prevent memory loss caused by aging, according to a review of research in the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry. Sweet, yet tart, blackberries contain high levels of vitamin C. Just 100 g (1 cup) of blackberries provides half the daily recommended amount. They are also high in fiber, a good source of vitamin K, and high in manganese, which may help to prevent osteoporosis in older people and also play a key part in the development of collagen, a crucial part of our skin, bones, muscles and joints.

Black pepper Surprisingly, when freshly ground black peppercorns are a rich source of the minerals magnesium, calcium, phosphorus, iron and potassium, and also the vitamins B, C and K. Grind them onto every food you can and use liberally both in cooking and at the table. Black pepper also helps with absorbing nutrients from other foods, and remember, we get worse at this with age.

Broccoli and other cruciferous veg A great source of fiber, with some protein, broccoli contains vitamins A, C, E and K as well as the B group of vitamins (though not B12). Broccoli also delivers a punch of iron, potassium, calcium, selenium and magnesium. Dark-green broccoli is best eaten raw or al dente. Eating raw or steamed broccoli regularly is excellent at helping to prevent bowel disease. Try to eat broccoli and/or other dark-green cruciferous vegetables, such as spinach, kale and cabbage, at least four times each week.

Coconut and coconut oil The very stable saturated fat in coconut, coconut cream and oil is absorbed rapidly by the body and used as energy. Coconut contains carbohydrates and protein, alongside essential minerals, including manganese, copper, iron and selenium. Those living in Polynesian islands who frequently eat coconut have lower rates of heart disease than those following a Western diet.

Dark cherries Eating a handful of red cherries, or some unsweetened cherry juice, after your evening meal, when cherries are in season, could well be a good idea, as cherries contain high levels of the sleep hormone melatonin, which may help you sleep well. About six cherries, eaten twice daily, are also known to reduce inflammation and muscle soreness and to lower blood pressure. They can also reduce the risk of a gout attack by 35 percent. Dark chocolate Chocolate contains biologically active phenolic compounds, and the antioxidants in chocolate may have a range of health benefits, such as lowering cholesterol levels, preventing cognitive decline and reducing the risk of cardiovascular problems. The darker the chocolate, the higher the concentration of cocoa, so in theory, the higher the level of antioxidants present.

Garlic Pungent garlic contains manganese, vitamin B6 and vitamin C. Interestingly, regular garlic eaters are known to have the lowest incidence of cancer. Garlic is used medically to help many conditions related to the heart and blood, including helping to lower high blood pressure. Adopt the habit of adding garlic to stir fries, salad dressings, soups and casserole dishes on a regular basis.

Ginger Ginger contains gingerol, known to help prevent nausea, reduce muscle pain and stiffness, and lower inflammation, especially in those suffering from osteoarthritis.

It’s also been shown to lower blood sugar levels and to improve various heart disease risk factors in those with type 2 diabetes. Studies suggest that ginger can protect against age-related damage to the brain and aid digestion. All this, and it can also fight harmful bacteria and viruses, which could reduce the risk of any infections.

Green tea Green tea contains healthy bioactive compounds that may improve brain function, increase fat burning, protect the brain from aging and help prevent type 2 diabetes.

Nuts Walnuts and walnut oil are credited with the most anti-aging properties, due to the amount of omega-3 in just one handful. They can also help to prevent dementia and keep your brain young while fighting off heart disease by improving your cholesterol level. Plus, one small handful of high-in-magnesium almonds at bedtime can help you sleep better.

Oily fish Besides being a good source of protein and vitamin D for healthy bones, there is strong evidence now that these fish and their constituent omega-3 fatty acids do have a role in preventing heart attacks. Opt for the real thing: sardines, salmon, trout, tuna, mackerel and the like.

Onions Research has found that the risk of colorectal cancer is 79 percent lower in those who regularly consume allium vegetables, such as chives, garlic, leeks and onions. Onions are a nutrient-dense food, meaning they are high in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, including high amounts of vitamin C.

Oranges Besides vitamin C, oranges are a healthy source of thiamine, folate, potassium and antioxidants. They’re also good at helping to prevent constipation and lower blood pressure.

Peas High in both anti-inflammatory nutrients and antioxidants, as well as the carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin that are known to help eye health, peas, whether frozen or fresh, are full of fiber and provide vitamin C as well as carbohydrate and protein. Always cook frozen peas from frozen to maintain maximum food value and color.

Prawns A serving of cooked prawns provides around 10 percent of the daily requirement for calcium, zinc and magnesium and they are particularly high in vitamin B12. Look for raw prawns without salt added as they are super-quick and easy to cook, and healthy too.

Rapeseed oil This oil is a potent antioxidant that supports skin and eye health and a good source of both healthy fats and fat-soluble vitamins A, D, K and E. Rapeseed oil can be heated to high temperatures because of its high smoke point; it won’t burn until around 200 ºC.

Raspberries Red raspberries are high in vitamin C but also contain manganese, vitamin K, vitamin E and many B vitamins, plus iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium and copper.

Seeds Pumpkin seeds are a good source of monounsaturated and omega-6 fats and may help improve heart health and symptoms of urinary tract disorder. Sesame seeds are high in zinc and are a good source of selenium, copper, iron, vitamin B6 and vitamin E. Sesame seeds and oil may help reduce inflammation and stress.

Spinach Simplicity itself to cook or eat raw, vibrant, dark-green spinach is known as a “restorative” vegetable. An excellent source of vitamins K, A, C and B2, it is also rich in the minerals manganese and magnesium.

Sweet potatoes Sweet potatoes are high in carotenoids, which convert to vitamin A that helps to boost the immune system and improve eyesight. A good source of vitamins and minerals, including vitamin C, potassium and magnesium, these tubers can also help protect us against aging.

Tomatoes Rich in the antioxidant lycopene, tomatoes, if eaten regularly, can help to reduce the risk of prostate cancer in men. Research has shown that their high vitamin C content helps to protect the skin from sun damage.

Turmeric Of the ginger family, turmeric is known to be one of the most powerful healing plants in the world, used for fighting and possibly reversing disease. It can suppress molecules known to play major roles in inflammation and has powerful antioxidant effects, and it’s shown to lead to various improvements in the development process of Alzheimer’s disease.

Watercress This salad ingredient boasts many important vitamins and minerals, including vitamin K, which promotes a healthy immune system and reduces infection risk. High in antioxidants, which may help prevent chronic disease such as diabetes, cancer and heart disease, it’s also good for bone health and helps lower blood pressure.


Sweet jacket potatoes with smoked mackerel, horseradish and parsley

Sweet potatoes cook quickly in the microwave and can be counted as one of your seven-a-day. I often serve them for a quick lunch, straight from the microwave, with just some crumbled feta cheese and a dressed, mixed salad with sliced kiwi fruit and chopped dates.


2 medium-sized sweet potatoes, washed and dried

Spray oil

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 3/4 oz (75 g) smoked mackerel filet, skinned

3 Tbsp (44 g) Greek-style natural yogurt

2 tsp (10 mL) lemon juice

2 tsp (10 mL) horseradish sauce

1 tsp (0.5 g) freshly chopped parsley


You will need a vegetable knife, microwaveable dinner plate, 1-qt (1‑L) mixing bowl, fork, measuring spoons, chopping board and knife.


1. Score a cross in the top of each potato you wish to cook.

2. Stand the potatoes, spaced apart, on the dinner plate, spray them all over with a little spray oil, and season with salt and pepper.

3. In the oven, bake for 40–45 minutes at 350 °F (180 °C) until soft. If you use a microwave, cook them, uncovered, on high for 5–6 minutes for one potato or 8 minutes for two.

4. Set aside for 4 minutes.

5. Meanwhile, prepare the filling: In the mixing bowl, using a fork, mash together the mackerel filet with the yogurt, lemon juice and horseradish sauce. Add the parsley and stir it in.

6. Serve the opened jacket potato(es) with the mackerel filling divided between them.


Accompany with a dressed, mixed salad.


Vegetable curry with chickpeas and dates

This curry takes about the same time to cook as wild rice, so cook them side by side on the stove for a complete main course.


1 Tbsp (15 mL) olive or rapeseed oil

1 large red onion, chopped

1 2-in. (5-cm) piece fresh ginger, peeled and grated

1 clove of garlic, chopped

1 Tbsp (8.25 g) garam masala

1 tsp (2.75 g) turmeric

1 tsp (2.75 g) sweet paprika

1 tsp (2.75 g) ground cumin

1 medium-sized sweet potato, washed and cubed

1 red pepper, deseeded and chopped

1/2 butternut squash, peeled and cubed

1 cup (200 g) canned chopped tomatoes

1 cup (200 g) canned chickpeas, drained and rinsed

10 oz (300 mL) vegetable stock

1/3 cup (50 g) dates or dried apricots, chopped


You will need a chopping board and knife, tablespoon, teaspoon, liquid measuring cup, 2 large saucepans with lids and a wooden spoon.


1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan, add the onion and cook, stirring frequently, over medium heat for about 5 minutes to soften.

2. Stir in the ginger and garlic and cook for 1 minute.

3. Stir in all the spices and cook, stirring for 2 minutes, until aromatic.

4. Add the sweet potato and red pepper together with the butternut squash.

5. Stir well, then add the canned tomatoes, chickpeas, stock and dates or apricots.

6. Bring to the boil and cover with a lid, then simmer for about 35 minutes, until the vegetables are tender.


Serve the curry on a bed of boiled/steamed brown or wild rice, topped with a little freshly chopped cilantro and perhaps homemade coleslaw using purple cabbage.


Vegetable rancheros 

This makes a speedy, slightly spicy lunch or supper dish, Mexican in origin and simply delicious. I tend to use half a chili, or a little chopped chili from a jar, as I prefer my food not too spicy, but do use the whole chili if you prefer your food more fiery.


2 Tbsp (30 mL) olive or rapeseed oil

1 small red onion, chopped

1 red pepper, finely sliced

1/2 to 1 red chili, deseeded and sliced

1 medium-sized zucchini, topped, tailed and sliced, or 1 small eggplant, diced

1 15-oz (400-g) can chopped tomatoes

1 Tbsp (1.5 g) freshly chopped parsley or 1/2 tsp (0.25 g) dried

1 tsp (5 mL) clear honey

1 Tbsp (15 mL) tomato purée


4 medium eggs


You will need a chopping board and knife, large frying pan with a lid, wooden spoon, tablespoon and teaspoon.


1. Heat the oil in a fairly deep, large frying pan over medium heat until shimmering.

2. Fry the onion, pepper and chili for 5–7 minutes, stirring frequently, until the onion softens.

3. Add the zucchini or eggplant and continue to fry for about 3 minutes, stirring frequently.

4. Add the tomatoes and parsley, then stir in the honey with the tomato purée.

5. Season with a little salt and simmer gently, uncovered, for about 8 minutes, stirring now and again.

6. Using a wooden spoon, make 4 indents in the vegetable mixture.

7. Crack an egg into each of the holes. It might help to crack each egg into a small cup first.

8. Cover the pan with a lid or a piece of tin foil and cook over medium heat for about 7 minutes, until the eggs are set to your liking.


Serve immediately, sprinkled with the torn basil leaves. Serve with boiled brown rice, baked sweet potatoes or, for speed and ease, whole-grain French bread, sliced.


Thai-style chicken with an orange, tomato and mixed-leaf salad

This is a great way to serve chicken with three different cooking options: choose between oven roasting, grilling or cooking on the BBQ. It makes a delicious lunch or supper with tangy flavors. I recommend buying the best quality chicken you can afford, preferably organic and free range. That way you may be assured you are buying chicken with plenty of flavor.


3 small chicken breast filets, skinned and sliced into thin strips, or 4 skinned and boned chicken thigh filets, cut into thin strips

For the marinade:

2 Tbsp (3 g) chopped basil leaves

2 Tbsp (3 g) chopped cilantro (coriander)

4 cloves garlic, chopped

1 Tbsp (15 mL) fish sauce

2 Tbsp (30 mL) light soy or tamari sauce

2 Tbsp (30 mL) olive or rapeseed oil

Spray oil if desired

For the orange, tomato and mixed-leaf salad:

3–4 handfuls mixed salad leaves, such as young spinach leaves, rocket and watercress

2 medium-sized tomatoes, chopped

1 orange, segmented

A few snipped fresh basil leaves

For the dressing:

2 Tbsp (30 mL) red wine vinegar

1/4 cup (60 mL) olive oil

1 tsp (5 mL) clear honey

1 tsp (5 mL) fish sauce

Handful freshly chopped coriander leaves


You will need a chopping board and knife, dinner plate, absorbent kitchen paper, medium-sized mixing bowl, baking sheet if cooking in the oven, tablespoon, teaspoon, cooking tongs, salad bowl and 2 salad serving spoons.


1. In a medium-sized mixing bowl, combine all the ingredients for the marinade. Stir well. Add the chicken to the marinade and stir to coat.

2. Cover and chill in the fridge for at least 15 minutes or up to 24 hours. (Remember to discard any remaining marinade immediately, as it has been in contact with raw chicken.)

6 Preheat the oven to 425 °F (220 °C), 400 °F (200 °C) for convection or gas 7 and grease a baking sheet with a little extra oil.

7. Lift the chicken from the marinade and arrange in a single layer on the baking sheet.

8. Lightly coat with oil.

9. Space the chicken out on the greased baking sheet and cook near the top of oven for 15–20 minutes, until lightly charred and cooked through.


Serve the chicken sprinkled with the cilantro and accompanied by the salad. Offer chunks of whole-grain or gluten-free bread or freshly prepared couscous.


Dark chocolate mousse with Cointreau and fresh fruit 

This is a rich, full-flavored chocolate mousse made from just eggs, dark chocolate and a little Cointreau or orange juice. A little of this delicious dessert goes a long way, so serve in small dishes. Small, china coffee cups also work well. The mousse can be made ahead and held in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.

NUTRITIONAL NOTE: As the dessert contains raw eggs, it is not suitable for pregnant women or very young children.

Serves 4–5


3 1/2 oz (100 g) dark chocolate, 70% cocoa solids

5 Tbsp (75 mL) cold water

2 large eggs, separated

2 Tbsp (30 mL) Cointreau or mango juice


You will need 2 large mixing bowls, one of which must be heat proof, plus a knife, wooden spoon, handheld electric mixer, tablespoon, spatula, and 4–5 small dishes or ramekins.


1. Break the chocolate into pieces and place in a medium-sized mixing bowl. Add the cold water and suspend the bowl over a pan of simmering water. Do not allow the bowl to come in contact with the water.

2. Stirring frequently, allow the chocolate to melt completely.

3. Remove from the heat and set aside for at least 10 minutes.

4. Meanwhile, in a large, clean mixing bowl, using the electric mixer, beat the egg whites until they stand in soft peaks.

5. Using a wooden spoon, or the electric whisk, beat the egg yolks one at a time into the melted chocolate, just to combine.

6. Beat in the Cointreau or mango juice until smooth.

7. Using a large metal spoon, lightly cut and fold the egg white into the chocolate mixture until it is well combined and there is no longer any egg white visible.

8. Divide the mousse evenly between the sundae dishes or ramekins.

9. Chill for at least 2 hours or until ready to serve.


Garnish with a dollop of Greek-style natural yogurt and fresh strawberries, raspberries, mango or other fresh fruit.


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Article Topics: Egg, vitamin
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