The foods you eat can help you hold back the years. Take our quiz to find out if your diet has time on its side!
The fountain of youth may be mere legend, but a diet that’s high in certain foods can help slow the signs of ageing—from poor memory and eyesight to wrinkles and arthritis.
Answer these 12 questions, then add up your points and read the answers (below) to find out whether your diet has a youthful glow!
1. How many serves of dairy do you have each day?
(One serve is equivalent to 250ml of milk, 200g of yoghurt or 40g of cheese)
A Less than one B One or two C Three or more
2. How often do you eat leafy green vegetables, such as broccoli, spinach and kale?
A On most days B A couple of times a week C Rarely
3. Which of the following fats are you most likely to use when cooking?
A Butter B Olive oil C Corn oil
4. Do you add salt to foods?
A Yes, when cooking, as well as when eating at the table B Yes, only when cooking C No
5. How many serves of fruit and vegetables do you eat each day?
A Fewer than three B Three or four C At least five
6. Which of these do you reach for when craving a savoury snack?
A Cheese and crackers B A handful of raw nuts or seeds C Potato chips
7. How often do you eat oily fish, such as salmon?
A At least once a week B Once a fortnight C Rarely
8. How often do you eat eggs?
A On most days B A couple of times a week C Less than once a week
9. Which choice would you eat for breakfast?
A Coffee and a pastry B A bowl of porridge C Toast topped with table spread and marmalade
10. What’s your favourite sweet snack?
A Blueberry muffin B Fresh fruit C Chocolate
11. Which kind of breakfast cereal, pasta, bread and rice are you most likely to eat?
A White B Wholemeal C Wholegrain
12. How many standard alcoholic drinks do you have a day?
A No more than 2 to 3 standard drinks (for women) or 3 to 4 standard drinks (for men) B More than 3 standard drinks (for women) or 4 standard drinks (for men)
Add up your points to see how you’ve scored.
1. A=0 B=1 C=2
Dairy foods are a key source of calcium, which we need to keep our bones strong and guard against osteoporosis, a condition that’s more likely to affect us as we age. According to Sydney’s Garvan Institute of Medical Research, two in three 60+ Aussie women and one in three 60+ Aussie men will break a bone as a result of poor bone health. Aim for three serves of dairy a day.
2. A=2 B=1 C=0
Green leafy vegetables are packed with antioxidants, including beta-carotene and vitamins C and E. Sufficient intakes of these substances can help stave off age-related macular degeneration (AMD), a leading cause of blindness in later life. Leafy greens are also high in folate, a B vitamin that may help protect against anaemia and Alzheimer’s. Aim to add leafy greens to your five daily serves of vegies.
3. A=0 B=2 C =1
Olive oil is high in healthy monounsaturated fat, and low in unhealthy saturated fat. In contrast, corn oil is low in both, while butter is packed with saturated fat and low in monounsaturated fat. This makes olive oil the best option for keeping your blood cholesterol within a healthy range, thereby reducing your risk of stroke or heart attack, or both.
4. A=0 B=1 C=2
Consuming too much salt increases our risk of high blood pressure, which, like osteoporosis, is a condition we’re more likely to suffer from as we get older. A Heart Foundation survey reveals that one in three Australians aged 30 to 65 have been diagnosed with high blood pressure. This disorder raises your risks of both stroke and heart disease. To lower your chances, choose low-sodium packaged foods and avoid the salt shaker altogether.
5. A=0 B=1 C=2
Enjoying at least five serves of fruit and vegies a day can help you live an extra three years, compared with eating fewer or none, according to a study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Australian Dietary Guidelines recommend eating two serves of fruit and five serves of veg every day. These amounts will boost your fibre, vitamin and antioxidant intakes.
6. A=1 B=2 C=0
Most varieties of nuts and seeds are rich in antioxidant vitamin E, which is essential for a strong immune system. As we get older, our immunity naturally weakens, making us more susceptible to colds and infections. Nuts and seeds are also good sources of fibre, which helps keep the bowel healthy. A high-fibre diet can even prevent problematic digestive disorders, such as diverticular disease and constipation, both of which are common in older Australians.
7. A=2 B=1 C=0
Oily fish, such as salmon and sardines, is full of omega-3 fats, which protect the heart, and vitamin D, which helps the body absorb calcium, keeping our bones strong and lowering the risk of osteoporosis. In one US study, people who ate oily fish at least once a week lowered their risk of Alzheimer’s disease by 60 per cent, compared with those who rarely or never ate oil-rich fish. Omega-3 fats also inhibit inflammation, ward off osteoarthritis and maintain joint health. Aim to include either canned or fresh oily fish in your diet at least twice a week.
8. A=2 B=1 C=0
In addition to oily fish, eggs are one of the few other foods that provide vitamin D, making them a great choice for strong bones. They’re also rich in vitamin B12, low levels of which have been linked to Alzheimer’s in people over the age of 75. The Heart Foundation recommends we enjoy up to six eggs a week as part of a healthy, balanced diet.
9. A=0 B=2 C=1
Oats are packed with beta-glucan, a soluble fibre that acts like a sponge in the digestive system, soaking up and removing cholesterol from the body. This kind of fibre also helps control blood-sugar levels and appetite: Enjoy a bowl of porridge for brekkie, and you’ll be less likely to reach for energy-dense snacks come midmorning.
10. A=1 B=2 C=0
Treat foods such as chocolate and muffins are full of fat and kilojoules, so if you indulge in them regularly, you may find it harder to control your weight. Being overweight at the age of 40 shaves three years off your life; being obese knocks off seven years. In contrast, fresh fruit is low in kilojoules and high in antioxidants, which help stave off cell damage that can lead to heart disease, Alzheimer’s and certain cancers.
11. A=0 B=1 C=2
A 2008 Cochrane Review shows that high intakes of wholegrain foods, such as grainy breads and cereals, reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes by up to 33 per cent. They also help prevent constipation and haemorrhoids, both of which become more common as we age. Studies also link the consumption of wholegrains to higher cognitive performance.
12. A=2 B=0
Although some studies show that drinking alcohol in moderation may extend our life expectancy, quaffing too much raises the risk of some diseases and cancers, which is hardly conducive to long life! Try to limit your intake to no more than two or three standard drinks a day.
How did you score?
10 points or under
Don’t despair! Yes, there’s plenty of room for improvement, but the good news is that if you keep following the recipes and advice in Healthy Food Guide magazine, you should soon be able to look forward to a longer, healthier life. Our qualified dietitians ensure that all of our recipes provide maximum health benefits.
Well done! You’re on your way to a long and healthy life. You’ve clearly already developed good eating habits, and are probably including plenty of fruit and veg, wholegrains and dairy foods in your diet. To enjoy even better health, save those tempting less-than-healthy foods for special occasions.
20 points or more
Congratulations! Chances are, you’re going to live to a ripe old age! But don’t use your good habits as an excuse to settle into complacency. Why not share your knowledge with friends and family members? To keep your anti-ageing know-how in top shape, keep reading Healthy Food Guide magazine, so you and those you love go on to enjoy many healthy and happy years!