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Longevity is the new buzzword. You can't walk into a bookstore without tripping over a best seller about extending your life. With good reason: Centenarians are one of the country's fastest-growing demographic groups; in fact, the U.S. Census Bureau projects they'll increase almost sixfold by 2050. So what's the secret to living longer and healthier? "Good nutrition can extend your life by not just years but decades," says Richard Flanigan, MD, assistant clinical professor of cardiology at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center in Aurora and author of Longevity Made Simple. We've uncovered 10 strategies to help you tap the culinary fountain of youth.
1. Snack on Watermelon
Tomatoes steal the spotlight for being antioxidant powerhouses, but watermelon actually packs more cancer- and heart-disease-fighting lycopene, says Elizabeth Somer, RD, author of Age-Proof Your Body. Eating the juicy fruit also helps increase amounts of arginine, an amino acid that helps keep arteries healthy, a key factor in preventing heart disease, the number one killer of women.
Boost the benefits: Store uncut melons on the counter. "Watermelons produce more lycopene at room temperature than when chilled, probably because they continue to ripen," Somer says. Lycopene levels in unrefrigerated watermelons rose about 20 percent in two weeks (they didn't change at all in melons that were refrigerated) in a recent USDA study.