No doubt, what we eat has the potential to either help us or harm us.

Nowadays, our addiction to processed food has left us eating a diet that offers insufficient nourishment and this is the cause of so many illnesses, such as obesity, cardiovascular disease, and type 2 diabetes.

It doesn’t have to be this way. There are foods that can leave you feeling energized, reduce your risk of illness, and allow you to maintain a healthy weight.

If you want to live longer and be healthier, you have to eat the most nutrient-full foods on the earth.

Making natural plant foods a primary part of your diet will restore your health and vitality in such a way that will amaze you.

1. Cruciferous Vegetables

Cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, and radishes, support the body’s natural detoxification processes.

“We have ‘detox’ enzymes, or chemical systems, within our cells (particularly in the liver), and the activity of these enzymes is bolstered by the presence of specific substances found only in cruciferous vegetables,” Dixon says.

Cruciferous veggies are especially beneficial for women, as they help to keep estrogen levels healthy and thwart off hormone-related cancers such as breastovarian, endometrial (uterine).

Dixon suggests sneaking in at least five servings of cruciferous veggies into your meals each week.

2. Greens-Salad

Raw leafy green vegetables — some are cruciferous — only contain less than 100 calories per pound, making them an ideal food for weight control.

In scientific studies, women who ate a large salad at the beginning of a meal ate fewer calories from the rest of the meal, and larger salads reduced calories more than smaller ones.

In addition to keeping weight down, greater intake of salads, leafy greens, or raw vegetables is associated with reduced risk of heart attack, stroke, diabetes, and several cancers.

Leafy greens are also rich in the essential B-vitamin folate, plus lutein and zeaxanthin, carotenoids that protect the eyes from light damage.

Try kale, collard greens, mustard greens, spinach, or lettuce.

To maximize the health benefits of leafy greens, we must maximize our absorption of their fat-soluble phytochemicals, carotenoids in particular, and that requires fats — which is why your salad (or dressing) should always contain nuts and/or seeds.

3. Nuts and Seeds

Nuts and seeds are some of the best  foods to add to your longevity diet plan because they reduce inflammation in all parts of the body, especially the heart and blood.

Walnuts are also a great source of omega-3 fatty acids which improve brain health, heart health, and even your weight.

Hemp seeds, flax, chia, and pumpkin seeds are other great sources of omega-3 fats.

Almonds and cashews are also wonderful sources of magnesium and iron that promote a healthy metabolism and ward off fatigue and high insulin levels.

Though high in fat, nuts and seeds can actually help regulate your metabolism, prevent cravings for unhealthy foods and are a good source of dietary fiber you need to stay healthy for life.

Consume 1-3 ounces per day either in whole form or in the form of nut and seed butters.

4. Berries

These antioxidant-rich fruits are very heart-healthy. Studies in which participants ate blueberries or strawberries daily for several weeks reported improvements in blood pressure, signs of oxidative stress, total and LDL cholesterol.

Berries also have anti-cancer properties and are excellent food for the brain; there is evidence that berry consumption could help prevent cognitive decline with aging.

Stick with the tried and traditional strawberry or blueberry, or try something new, like goji berries.

5. Pomegranate

The pomegranate is a unique fruit, containing tiny, crisp, juicy arils with a tasty mix of sweet and tart flavors. The signature phytochemical of pomegranate, punicalagin, is the most abundant and is responsible for more than half of the antioxidant activity of pomegranate juice.

Pomegranate phytochemicals have a variety of anti-cancer, cardioprotective, and brain-healthy actions.

Most notably, a study of patients with severe carotid artery blockages who drank one ounce of pomegranate juice daily for one year found a 30 percent reduction in atherosclerotic plaque; in the control group, atherosclerotic plaque increased by 9 percent.

In another study of older adults, those who drank pomegranate juice daily for 28 days performed better on a memory task compared to those who drank a placebo beverage.

Tip: To remove the edible arils from the fruit, score it around, a half-inch deep on the diameter, twist to split it in two, and then pound the back with the back of a large spoon.

6. Avocados

Avocados lead this list of anti-aging foods because they are just so delicious.

Of course, avocados are loaded with healthy fats to help improve your cholesterol, but the main reason to eat avocados is because they taste so good.

7. Mushrooms

Consuming mushrooms regularly is associated with a decreased risk of breast cancer.

Because they contain aromatase inhibitors (compounds that inhibit the production of estrogen), white and Portobello mushrooms are especially protective against breast cancer.

Mushrooms have quite an array of beneficial properties: Studies on different types of mushrooms have found anti-inflammatory effects, enhanced immune cell activity, prevention of DNA damage, slowed cancer cell growth, and angiogenesis inhibition.

Mushrooms should always be cooked; raw mushrooms contain a potentially carcinogenic substance called agaritine that is significantly reduced by cooking.

Include common white mushrooms regularly, and try some of the more exotic varieties like shiitake, oyster, maitake, or reishi.

8. Onions and Garlic

The Allium family of vegetables, of which onions are a member, benefit the cardiovascular and immune systems as well as having anti-diabetic and anti-cancer effects.

Increased consumption of allium vegetables is associated with a lower risk of gastric and prostate cancers.

These vegetables are known for their organosulfur compounds which help to prevent the development of cancers by detoxifying carcinogens, halting cancer cell growth, and blocking angiogenesis.

These compounds are released when they are chopped, crushed, or chewed.

Onions also contain high concentrations of health-promoting flavonoid antioxidants, which have anti-inflammatory effects that may contribute to cancer prevention.

Try leeks, chives, shallots, and scallions, in addition to garlic and yellow onions.

9. Tomatoes

Tomatoes are one of those healthy foods that become even healthier when you cook them, since cooking releases and concentrates key nutrients.

Canned tomatoes, tomato paste, and even ketchup are great sources of lycopene, an antioxidant that has been shown to reduce your risk of prostate cancer and cardiovascular disease.

Tomato products also provide potassium, some iron, and vitamins A, C, and E.

It is not often that a healthy food is as indulgent as dark chocolate.

But the next time you are nibbling on a piece of this sweet, savor the fact that it delivers antioxidants called flavonoids, which support the health of your heart and blood vessels.

Just don’t overdo it since chocolate is high in fat and calories.

And remember: the darker the chocolate, the higher level of healthy antioxidants.