Foods You Should Eat to Live Longer

Research suggests that what you eat can be one of the most important factors in living a long, healthy life. Along with exercise, your diet can be extremely effective at preventing chronic disease and promoting health and longevity. Eating a significant portion of these 6 nutrient-dense foods every day can help you naturally strengthen your immune system and could add years to your life by boosting your health.




Verywell / Alexandra Shytsman

Raw, leafy greens are packed with nutrients but are super low in calories. At only about 100 calories per pound, leafy greens are an excellent weight-loss food, since they can be eaten in virtually unlimited amounts. Greens provide protection for blood vessels, promote good eyesight, and are associated with lowering the risk for diabetes. Several of these vegetables, among them arugula, bok choy, kale, and collard greens, belong to the cruciferous family, a particular type of vegetable known for its cancer-fighting properties. Remember to blend, chop or chew these vegetables well, since doing so activates their potent anti-cancer effects.



Pinto beans

Verywell / Alexandra Shytsman

Beans are the embodiment of good things coming in small packages. Eating beans and other legumes will help you feel full, and because they have a stabilizing effect on blood sugar, they may also help prevent food cravings. The soluble fiber in beans lowers cholesterol levels. Eating beans, peas, or lentils twice a week has been found to decrease colon cancer risk by 50 percent as well as offering significant protection against oral, larynx, pharynx, stomach, and kidney cancers. Are you timid to try beans because of the potential for digestive rumblings? The key is to start slowly and build up your tolerance over several days.




Verywell / Alexandra Shytsman 

Onions, along with leeks, garlic, chives, shallots, and scallions, are beneficial to your cardiovascular and immune systems, as well as possessing anti-cancer and anti-diabetes effects. Onions, just like cruciferous veggies, should be chopped, crushed, or chewed thoroughly to get the most of their benefits. When you cut onions and your eyes begin to tear, that’s when you'll know the onions are producing the anti-cancer compounds. Epidemiological studies have found that increased consumption of these types of vegetables is associated with a lower risk of gastric and prostate cancers. Onions, especially red onions, also contain quercetin, a flavonoid which suppresses tumor growth and proliferation​ and induces colon cancer cell death.



Mushrooms cropped

Verywell / Alexandra Shytsman

Mushrooms are a "superfood." They are packed with health-promoting vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients. Mushrooms are unique in that they contain compounds that block the production of estrogen, making them beneficial for breast cancer prevention. White, cremini, Portobello, oyster, shiitake, maitake, and reishi mushrooms all have anti-cancer properties. Among the mushroom varieties, there are many good qualities: some are anti-inflammatory, stimulate the immune system, prevent DNA damage, slow cancer cell growth, cause programmed cancer cell death, and inhibit angiogenesis. Only eat mushrooms cooked. Raw mushrooms contain a potentially carcinogenic substance called agaritine, which cooking significantly reduces.




Verywell / Alexandra Shytsman

Colorful berries are among the best foods you can eat. Blueberries, strawberries, blackberries, and raspberries are all lower sugar fruits, but high in nutrients. Berry consumption has been linked to lowering the risk for heart disease, diabetes, cancers, and cognitive decline. Eating berries can improve motor coordination and memory while simultaneously reducing inflammation, preventing DNA damage inhibiting the growth of tumor cells, and reducing inflammation.


Seeds and Nuts

Brazil nuts

Verywell / Alexandra Shytsman

Seeds are loaded with good fats, vitamins, and antioxidants, while also being abundant in fiber and trace minerals. They also contain more protein than nuts. Each type of seed is nutritionally unique: Some are extremely rich in omega-3 fats; others are high in anti-cancer lignans, and still, others possess plentiful amounts of iron, calcium, zinc, and vitamin E. Nuts are known to have cardiovascular benefits and aid in diabetes prevention and weight maintenance. The good fats in seeds and nuts also aid in the absorption of nutrients when eaten with vegetables.

Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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By Joel Fuhrman, MD
Joel Fuhrman, MD, is a board-certified physician focused on nutrition and natural healing. He's a New York Times best-selling author and TEDx speaker.