Top 22 Anti-Aging Foods for Your Body After 40
No matter what your age, you want to look and feel your best. Yet as we approach and pass the age of 40, some signs of aging start to seem inevitable. Fortunately, that doesn’t have to be the case. Staying active and exercising regularly, building strong social connections, making sleep a priority, avoiding excess sun exposure, and other lifestyle choices can help you look and feel years younger than the calendar may indicate. One of the best ways to prolong a more youthful appearance may be by what you put into your body. For example, by eating the top anti-aging foods, you will likely move easier, look younger, and feel more vibrant.
You see, aging is due, in large part, to oxidative stress on the body. Free-radical oxidation from environmental toxins, unhealthy foods, and excess stress can lead to a lack of vitality, increased wrinkles, and lowered immunity. This is why antioxidant-rich foods may also be called the top anti-aging foods.
Here are some of our favorite foods to add to the menu to nourish your skin, your hair, your brain, and your body now and for years to come. The best part? Many of these foods are fantastically delicious!
The Top Anti-Aging Foods
1. Nuts and Seeds
Some of the best foods to prolong youthfulness, especially when consumed regularly, are nuts and seeds. Shoot for a mix of one to two ounces of these vitamin-packed foods each day. Some top choices include walnuts, almonds, pistachios, and pecans for their rich supply of phytosterols, protein, and fiber as well as vitamin E.
Walnuts, for example, have been shown to help middle-aged women age more healthfully—as defined by no chronic diseases, memory impairment, or physical disabilities after turning 65. 1,2
Don’t overlook seeds either. Sesame seeds, for example, are loaded with anti-aging nutrients like fiber, calcium, iron, magnesium, and phosphorus. Hemp seeds provide gamma-linoleic-acid, which may help boost skin firmness and help the skin look more radiant.
2. Beans and Lentils
As we age, hair can start to not only gray but thin (and even bald). Beans and lentils provide nutrients like vitamin B9 to help prevent both. What’s more, these top anti-aging foods also provide protein and fiber for long-lasting energy.
3. Collagen Powder
Collagen is the most abundant protein in the skin. In fact, up of 75 to 80% of the skin’s weight is made up of collagen, so it makes sense to go right to the source to support healthier skin, hair, and nails. Collagen may also help support healthier, more limber joints and stronger bones.
If you want healthier hair and nails, then adding some oatmeal to your morning meal is a good plan. Oatmeal provides a healthy dose of zinc and iron, which have been shown to support healthy hair and nail growth.
Silver or gray hair is beautiful (and even trendy), especially when hair is thick and healthy. Yet many folks want to delay the natural graying process. One key nutrient to help hair retain its color is copper. Copper deficiencies, which are fairly common, can impact hair follicles, potentially leading to early graying. 3
One food that’s rich in anti-aging nutrients, including copper, is mushrooms. Shiitake mushrooms are especially high in copper, providing more than 100% of the daily recommended amount per cup.
6. Sweet Potatoes
Another nutrient that can help revitalize collagen production to help reduce the appearance of wrinkles and help the skin look brighter and more vibrant is vitamin A. One tasty food that provides a healthy dose of vitamin A is the sweet potato.
It’s not just important to keep the body looking more youthful, it’s also important to keep the mind sharp. Broccoli is rich in lutein, which has been shown to support mental performance and reduce cognitive decline when consumed often. 4 To get the most out of your broccoli, gently steam, grill, roast, or stir-fry it before eating as cooking broccoli allows the body to better digest and absorb the nutrients.
Of course, broccoli is just one of the cruciferous vegetables to include as one of the top anti-aging foods. Kale, Brussels sprouts, and cauliflower are all rich in nutrients and a powerful way to get more fiber and antioxidants, including sulforaphane, into your diet. Sulforaphane is a phytochemical that’s been shown to help prevent cell damage and reduce free radicals. 5
Carrots are another vitamin A and vitamin C-rich food to help restore skin elasticity and regenerate collagen and cells. Carrots are also well-known for providing the nutrients to support eyesight as we age, easily earning a top spot as an anti-aging food. 6 What’s more, carrots are high in carotenoids, which provide anti-inflammatory properties that can help protect the skin from pollution, environmental hazards, and even sun damage. 7
You’ll find a lot of nutrients in this small package, including age-defying vitamins A, B1, B2, B6, C, E, and K and calcium, potassium, manganese, and phosphorus along with lutein and B-carotene. 8 Add some to salads, smoothies, and more to help keep the skin looking soft and smooth.
If you’re not already adding handfuls of spinach to your morning smoothie or eggs, now’s the time to start. Spinach provides antioxidants, vitamins A, C, E, and K, magnesium, heme iron, and lutein, so it helps hydrate the skin, promote collagen, and keep the skin soft, firm, and healthy. It can also promote heathier, thicker hair.
Loaded with antioxidants and plant-based proteins along with an array of vitamins and minerals, spirulina has earned its place as a top anti-aging food. Simply choose a quality green drink or add a scoop of spirulina to your morning smoothie to seriously punch up your nutrition levels.
If you’re looking for a real anti-aging bang for your buck, one of the most antioxidant-rich foods you can find is blueberries. What’s more, research has strongly supported the anti-aging effects of blueberries, including against vascular and neurodegenerative diseases. 9
Another top anti-aging food is pineapple. Loaded with nutrients like fiber, magnesium, and a wide range of vitamins and minerals, pineapple helps support nearly every system in the body, including the heart and lungs, brain, immune system, and bones. 10
Another exotic fruit to add to the list is papaya, which provides vitamins A, B, C, E, and K as well as minerals like calcium, potassium, and magnesium. It also, however, contains the enzyme papain, which has been shown to help the body shed dead cells and is why it’s found in so many exfoliating products. 11
15. Citrus Fruits
Collagen is vital for keeping the skin and joints more elastic and looking and feeling younger. Of course, ensuring you consume collagen from foods or supplements is important, but it’s also important to support natural collagen production in the body. One way is by consuming collagen boosters like vitamin C. One of the best places to find a hefty amount of vitamin C is in citrus fruits like oranges. As a bonus, vitamin C has also been shown to support a strong, balanced immune system.
Of course, you can also find vitamin C in other vegetables and fruits, including bell peppers, which are also antioxidant-rich. Peppers also provide the powerful carotenoids, which have been shown to help protect against sun damage. 12
One way to ensure you’re getting enough water each day is by eating it—in one of the most delicious forms. Watermelon is high in skin-loving water along with being one of the best sources of lycopene. This phytonutrient has been shown to even help protect the skin from sun damage. 13
When watermelon isn’t in season, another great high-lycopene food is cooked tomatoes. Cooking tomatoes actually makes it easier for the body to absorb this key anti-aging nutrient.
Another great food for helping preserve collagen levels is pomegranate seeds. These bursts of flavor provide a wealth of nutrients including vitamins C and K, folate, potassium, and fiber. Plus, they taste delicious on salads and smoothie bowls or floating in your bubbly water.
18. Greek Yogurt
When it comes to macronutrients, protein is the most important for keeping the metabolism firing. Greek yogurt provides nearly twice the amount of protein as other varieties of yogurt. What’s more, yogurt (of all varieties) provides vitamins C and D to help keep muscles and bones strong as you age. As always, watch the sugar content, and when possible, choose plain yogurt and sweeten with your own fresh or frozen fruits and perhaps a touch of stevia, Swerve, or honey.
19. Cold-Water Fish
Wild-caught fatty fish like salmon, sardines, and mackerel provide lean protein along with omega-3 fatty acids, which help you maintain or even build lean muscle. And the healthy fats they provide also help support younger-looking skin and thicker, shinier hair.
20. Dark Chocolate
Just because you’re looking for the top anti-aging foods doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy an indulgence from time to time. The polyphenols found in cocoa and dark chocolate have been shown to turn on signals for antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties to help support a healthier body. 14
Of course, the caveat to promote healthier skin and cells is to choose the lowest sugar, highest percentage of dark cocoa varieties for the greatest benefit.
You can’t go wrong adding a variety of spices to everything from smoothies and oatmeal to soups and stews to, well, honestly, any recipe. Herbs and spices as a food group tend to be antiaging. They also provide tons of flavor to make almost any dish—vegetarian, fish, or meat-based—more enticing. Spice up any meal with ginger, rosemary, cinnamon, cardamon, red pepper, or of course, turmeric for a healthy antioxidant-rich boost.
22. Water (with a squeeze of lemon or lime)
It goes without saying that water is vitally important to help cells remain youthful. To make it even more beneficial, squeeze in some lemon or lime juice to add vitamin C. Research from the UK has found that the vitamin C found in these two fruits can help reduce the appearance of wrinkles and decrease dullness in skin in women ages 40 to 74 years old. 15
Top Anti-Aging Foods: A Wrap-Up
As you can tell from the list of foods, the path to beautiful, youthful-looking, healthy skin is a whole-food diet that’s loaded with antioxidants, healthy fats, water, and other essential nutrients. And research has confirmed that a diet high in vegetables and fruits (such as the Mediterranean Diet) can help fight off a dull complexion and smooth fine lines. 16 But it’s not just the skin that benefits. The brain, joints, heart, lungs, and more all benefit from these nutrients—to potentially help expand your life and health span.
Sure, quality skincare creams, lotions, and serums can help, but beauty (and health) really does start from within.