January 1st, 2009
09:30 AM ET

Do any foods help us age healthily?

As a new feature of CNNhealth.com, our team of expert doctors will answer readers’ questions. Here’s a question for Dr. Gupta.

Asked by Carly, Raleigh, North Carolina

"I am a woman in my mid-30's. Are there certain foods I should be consuming as I age?"


Carly, I am happy to hear that at 30 you are already thinking about your health as you age. As a doctor, it’s all too common for me to see people wait until their golden years to begin thinking about their health.

I did a lot of research for my book, “Chasing Life,” on the importance of eating a variety of foods as we age. I discovered that we really are what we eat. What we consume becomes even more important as we age because our bodies need different nutrients in our 30s and 40s than it did at age 15.

Men and women in their 30s should eat a lot of lean protein such as fish, chicken, or for vegetarians, tofu. Protein builds up muscle and bone mass, which is something we begin to lose after age 30. Also, boost bone density by consuming foods high in calcium and vitamin D such as skim or soy milk.

When we hit the big 4-0 our metabolism begins to really slow down. If you are still eating lots of junk food it’s time to cut it out of your diet once and for all. Concentrate on heart-healthy foods such as whole grains and nuts as well as fruits, veggies and yogurt.

And don’t skimp on your greens. Try to eat them at least three times a week; they are great for the eyes! Spinach and kale are great options because they’re loaded with the nutrient lutein. Studies have showed that lutein is beneficial in preventing macular degeneration.

About this blog

Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.