As much as we try to convince ourselves that 30’s the new 20, our bodies may tell us otherwise. As a fellow 30-year-old, it’s a struggle to stay up as late as I used to or swap out my warm, fleece-lined PJs for a slim-fitting dress to go out and party. It’s a surer sign of adulthood when we’re making healthier food choices and becoming more conscious of what we’re putting into our bodies. Here are five foods you may want to start incorporating into your diet if you haven’t already.
Beans, beans, the musical fruit
They’re not just good for your heart. These nutritional powerhouses are packed with antioxidants, which slow the aging process and fight off free radicals—skin-damaging molecules that come from sun exposure, pollution, and other environmental factors. Try sprinkling some black beans into your pasta or salad or substitute chips and dip with veggies and hummus.
After our 30s, wearing ourselves thin is an understatement – whether we’re climbing up the career ladder, getting married and having kids, or dealing with painful mortgages. We long for the days when we had a surplus of energy to handle life’s pressures. Try peanuts, walnuts or hazelnuts in your morning yogurt or alone as an afternoon snack. They’re loaded with antioxidants, vitamin E (an immunity-booster) and B vitamins (to prepare your mind and energize your body for whatever life may throw at you next).
To combat joint pain that may settle later on in life, fatty fish that are high in omega-3s such as salmon, mackerel, tuna and sardines are worthwhile options. The anti-inflammatory effects from omega-3s are helpful not just for relieving arthritis, but also for preventing other diseases linked to inflammation, such as heart disease.
A lack of iron can leave us feeling physically and mentally drained. Researchers at Penn State University found that young women who had an iron deficiency took longer and performed worse on cognitive tasks than those who had normal levels of iron. Flex those arm and mental muscles by consuming lean beef, soybeans, spinach or tofu.
Indulge a little
Who says healthy doesn’t have to be yummy? Quality dark chocolate that’s high in cocoa content is proven to boast loads of nutritional value. One study showed that cocoa and dark chocolate contain more antioxidant activity, polyphenols and flavanols than other fruits they tested. These compounds can improve blood flow in the arteries and cause a small but statistically significant decrease in blood pressure.