The One Food You Should Eat Every Day if You Want To Live to 100

Woman eating healthy to live to 100

If there was a pill you could take that promised to add years to your life, would you do it? While no such drug exists, there are foods that countless scientific research has found to do exactly this. The fact that what we eat can support longevity is even better than if a medication could promise this. After all, food is more affordable and accessible than expensive drugs—and a lot tastier too.

If you want to live to be 100, there is one food in particular that registered dietitians recommend eating every day. Keep reading to find out what it is.

Related: People Who Live Longer Eat These Specific Foods, According to a Major 36-Year Study

The One Food You Should Eat Every Day if You Want To Live To Be 100

While certain foods are linked to longevity, women’s health and longevity expert Jennifer Scheinman, RD, says that no one food can make up for eating mostly ultra-processed, nutrient-poor ones; it’s overall diet that truly matters. Scientific studies have found that a diet that prioritizes whole grains, vegetables, fruit and nuts while minimizing consumption of red meat can add years to your life. The Mediterranean diet is one example of this and has been repeatedly shown to increase lifespan.

But if you aren’t used to eating this way, changing your diet can be hard—especially since you want to keep your healthier habits going long-term and not just a week or two. When it comes to making long-lasting healthy dietary changes, it can help to take small steps instead of a major sudden, drastic change. If you want to live to be 100, registered dietitian and longevity expert Ella Davar, RD, CND, CHC, says there’s one food in particular she recommends starting with, finding ways to incorporate it into at least one of your meals each day: leafy greens.

Related: All Hail Kale! 21 Ways to Enjoy More Leafy Greens in Your Diet

She explains that leafy greens (such as kale, spinach, bok choy, collard greens, romaine and Swiss chard) are high in fiber, antioxidants, and other vitamins and minerals. One scientific study found that people who ate one to two servings of leafy greens a day were the health equivalent of 11 years younger than people who didn’t eat leafy greens every day—a pretty massive difference!

While there are many foods linked to longevity, one reason why Davar recommends starting with leafy greens is because they’re super versatile and easy to incorporate into a variety of meals. “You can easily incorporate leafy greens into meals by adding them to salads, smoothies or stir-fries. They can also be used as wraps for sandwiches, salad dressings, sauces or blended into soups for a nutrient boost,” she explains.

When you start incorporating leafy greens into your diet, Davar says you can expect to see changes in your health pretty immediately. “In the short term, incorporating leafy greens regularly can lead to increased energy levels, weight loss, improved digestion and enhanced nutrient absorption. The antioxidants in these greens may also contribute to better skin and reduced inflammation, providing an overall sense of well-being,” she says.

Long-term, Davar says that eating leafy greens every day can contribute to better cardiovascular health, reduced risk of chronic diseases and improved cognitive function. “The abundance of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fiber supports bone health and immune function, contributing to an extended and healthier lifespan,” she says.

Related: Not a Fan of Kale? No Problem—Here Are 125 Easy, Delicious Ways to Eat More Vegetables

Other Foods To Eat if You Want To Live To Be 100

While incorporating leafy greens into at least one meal a day is a great place to start if you want to live to be 100, there’s another food that Scheinman recommends eating regularly, based on the eating patterns in Blue Zones, places where people regularly live to be 100 in good health: beans and legumes.

“Beans and legumes have been extensively studied for their health benefits, particularly in the context of chronic disease prevention and longevity. Many of these studies have focused on their contributions to heart health, diabetes prevention, weight management and cancer risk reduction,” Scheinman says.

She explains that one major reason why beans and legumes are so beneficial is because they’re high in fiber, saying that as we age, the diversity of good bacteria in the gut declines, so it’s especially important to be mindful of your fiber intake as you get older since fiber helps boost these beneficial bacteria. “Plus, beans and legumes are relatively affordable compared to animal protein sources and very shelf stable, so just about everyone can make them part of their regular diet,” Scheinman says, highlighting another perk of beans and legumes.

In general, Kerri Hawkins, MS, RDN, LDN, cPT, a registered dietitian for Eden’s and January AI, says that if you want to live to be 100, prioritize anti-inflammatory foods including whole grains, vegetables, fruits, nuts, fish and healthy oils. These foods, she says, should make up the bulk of your diet.

Besides being linked to longevity, she says that many people see immediate health benefits when they start eating more anti-inflammatory foods, including fewer food cravings, increased satisfaction with meals, improved bowel movements and consistent energy during the day. “With consistent intake of anti-inflammatory foods, one can expect to see improvements in biomarkers related to chronic diseases such as cholesterol, blood sugar, inflammation, oxidative stress and immune function. Also added long-term benefits reported are less brain fog, less fatigue, reduced joint pain and better sleep,” Hawkins adds.

It bears repeating that changing the way you eat often takes time. Instead of doing a complete overhaul of your diet, take it one small change at a time. By incorporating leafy greens into at least one meal a day, you are always making a big step towards eating for longevity. Have fun experimenting with different ways to do it. After all, it’s just as important to enjoy your food as it is to benefit from it!

Next up, find out how a simple mindset change could add 7.5 years to your life.

Sources

  • Jennifer Scheinman, RD, registered dietitian, women’s health, and longevity expert

  • Ella Davar, RD, CND, CHC, registered dietitian and longevity expert

  • Kerri Hawkins, MS, RDN, LDN, cPT, registered dietitian for Eden’s and January AI