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Try These Secrets of Eating for Longevity from Dr. Mao Shing Ni

March 25, 2013

As you know if you're a regular reader of this blog, this month's Doable Challenge is about eating for a long life. To help you do that, chef and The Longevity Kitchen author Rebecca Katz shared tips and a list of 16 antioxidant-rich "power foods" to try to incorporate into your diet. For more suggestions about how we can all improve our diets, I interviewed Dr. Mao Shing Ni, the author of Dr. Mao's Secrets of Longevity Cookbook, a book that draws on the author's interviews about eating habits with centenarians around the world. He also shared three recipes from the book: the Quinoa Brown Rice Sushi pictured here, a light Spring Soup, and Zesty Halibut in Soy-Ginger Dressing. Read on for his advice, which includes many familiar (and wise) tips like eating more plants and fewer processed foods, along with interesting ideas to try, such as eating five smaller meals a day. And to put the "doable" in this week's challenge, let's all try to eat one of Dr. Mao's anti-aging foods every day this week. You'll find them at the end of the interview, but here's a cheat sheet: sweet potatoes, corn, peanuts, pumpkin, walnuts, black beans, sesame seeds, shiitake mushrooms, green tea, and seaweed. Epicurious: There has been a lot of buzz lately about the Mediterranean Diet, but what are some key things can we learn about eating for longevity from other cuisines? Dr. Mao Shing Ni: A major common characteristic for centenarians around the world that helps them live so long is that they eat a plant-based diet. The centenarians I met and researched about eat lots of fresh vegetables, protein rich beans, sometimes fish, and very little meat or modern processed foods. As a result, they have much lower rates of the top diseases facing modern society, including heart disease, cancer, liver disease, and degenerative diseases. A few other characteristics are that centenarians eat smaller meals than the average portions we have here in the U.S.; they eat fresh food that is usually sourced locally, in season, and free from pesticides; and they make the dining table the focus of vitality and aliveness, a time for gathering with loved ones and enjoying a home-cooked meal together. Epi: If you had to reduce your advice about eating for longevity to three simple, easy-to- follow tips, what would they be? Dr. Mao: 1. Make plants the centerpiece of your meal; cut way back on meat and eliminate processed foods. 2. Gradually cut back on sodium, sugars, gluten, dairy, and alcohol. 3. Eat 5 smaller meals a day. Epi: What longevity ingredients are you never without in your pantry? While working on Dr. Mao's Secrets of Longevity Cookbook, the same few foods came up over and over again in the diets of centenarians: sweet potatoes, corn, peanuts, pumpkin, walnuts, black beans, sesame seeds, shiitake mushrooms, green tea, and seaweed. I try to always keep these longevity foods on hand--particularly all kinds of dried seaweed and dried mushrooms, which...

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