We all strive to eat things that help the body and mind, even if we sometimes indulge in delicious desserts. Lucky for us, there has been a lot of good research on super foods – foods that pack in an extra punch of nutrients and antioxidants in every bite. Senior independence can be easier for those who choose healthy foods that provide power for the brain, healthy blood pressure and strong bones. Here are some excellent superfoods to consider incorporating into your diet if you haven’t already:

Cayenne pepper
This one is a bit surprising, but cayenne and other peppers contain the natural chemical capsaicin, which some researchers have found to have cancer fighting and pain-reducing properties.

Cranberries
These tiny, tart fruits have long been associated as providers of the powerful antioxidants called flavonoids, which are said to neutralize cancer-causing free radicals. Researchers at Rutgers and the University of Michigan have found that they potentially also protect against antibiotic-resistant bacteria that cause urinary tract infections by stopping the bacteria from latching on to the walls of the bladder.

Fish
Many fish are good for the body because they are low in fat but high in protein, contain zinc, iron and calcium and provide Omega-3s, which are widely known to be beneficial for health. You might be surprised to hear that anchovies are an excellent choice – they offer a high concentration of Omega-3s, are very low in mercury and are abundantly available, making them sustainable and cost-effective.

Walnuts
These nuts are packed with protein and, it turns out, their oils can lower blood cholesterol levels. According to a Penn State study that is in the June edition of the Journal of Nutrition, eating walnuts can reduce the risk of heart disease because natural chemicals in them boost the effects of good cholesterol by keeping blood vessels functioning smoothly.

Cruciferous veggies
If you haven’t heard of this category of vegetables, don’t worry – it’s just the umbrella term given to the tasty (though seemingly dissimilar) vegetables like arugula, bok choy, cabbage, brussels sprouts and collard greens, among others. In a study by the Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center and the Shanghai Center for Disease and Control Prevention, researchers found that female breast cancer survivors who ate more of these vegetables had a lower risk of cancer relapse or death.

Folates
Did you know that free radicals in the body can cause hearing loss? But you can combat free radicals with folate, which is rich in antioxidants. In fact, a study presented at the 2009 American Academy of Otolaryngology Conference reported that eating foods or taking supplements that are high in folate reduce the chance of developing hearing loss for men over 60 years old. So what foods are rich in folate? Try broccoli, raw spinach, dry roasted peanuts and asparagus, for starters.

Of course, all foods should be eaten in moderation. Check with your doctor or nutritionist to see how you can add some superfoods to your diet.

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