Some factors are out of our control, like genetics. However, we can exert control over what we eat. A nutritious diet can support healthy aging in more ways than one, according to the National Institute on Aging, reports Livestrong’s recent article entitled “Want to Age Well? Add a Spoon of This to Your Daily Diet”
“While we have yet to find the fountain of youth, there is research to suggest that the foods we put in our body may affect how quickly our organs and bodies and age,” says Dana Ellis Hunnes, PhD, RD, the senior clinical dietitian at UCLA Medical Center.
Eating more nutrients for longevity can be as simple as adding a single spoonful of flaxseed to your daily diet. It’s a rich source of healthy fats and other beneficial nutrients. It’s recommended that older adults eat four to five servings of nuts and seeds per week, according to the USDA 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans.
The typical serving size of flaxseeds is one to two tablespoons. They should be eaten ground instead of whole.
Ground flaxseeds are easier on your digestive system and may provide more nutrients than whole flaxseeds, which can pass through your system undigested, according to the National Library of Medicine (NLM). Here are three benefits of flaxseeds for healthy aging.
- Flaxseed Has Nutrients Linked to Disease Prevention. The typical Western diet is high in fat, sodium, sugar and calories. This increases the risk of obesity and chronic illnesses like type 2 diabetes, according to November 2020 research in Missouri Medicine. This type of diet is associated with highly processed and fast foods that can cause inflammation and leave a lot of room for nutritional gaps. However, eating an antioxidant-rich diet neutralizes free radicals and prevents them from damaging cells and increasing the risk of adverse health conditions.
- They’re High in Omega-3s, Which Support Heart and Brain Health. Flaxseeds are high in omega-3 fatty acids, which are essential for healthy aging. There are three main types of omega-3 fatty acids: eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). Flaxseeds contain ALA, which can be converted into EPA and DHA.
“Omega-3s are beneficial for heart health and are anti-inflammatory, which is essential for healthy aging,” Hunnes says. Those who eat a diet rich in omega-3 have a lower risk of heart disease, heart problems and heart-disease-related deaths, according to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
The lignans in flaxseeds have also been tied to lowering cholesterol and blood pressure, according to the American Heart Association.
- They Have Protein, Which Supports Muscle Health. A big threat to older adults is the loss of muscle mass, strength and function. Sarcopenia, or age-related muscle loss, occurs when the muscles start to atrophy or waste away, leading to poor balance and weakness. However, a combination of exercise and a muscle-supporting diet may help. Protein is a crucial nutrient for fighting the natural loss of muscle that occurs over time. Seniors may need more protein in their diets to preserve and increase muscle mass. Flaxseeds consist of up to 30 percent protein, and two tablespoons of ground flaxseeds has 2.6 grams of protein, or about 6 percent of your Daily Value (DV), according to the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans.
Reference: Livestrong (Sep. 26, 2022) “Want to Age Well? Add a Spoon of This to Your Daily Diet”