The Best Foods for Telomere Health


by Nils Osmar. December 25, 2022. Medical Disclaimer

Telomeres – the end caps on our DNA – are an important marker of aging. They don’t drive aging as far as we know, but their length and health are intertwined with the aging process. As the years go by our telomeres shorten and our health declines. The enzyme telomerase is associated with longer telomeres.

  • The best foods for supporting your telomeres are fish and seafood. In a recent study, researchers from the University of California found that patients with the highest levels of omega 3 fats had the slowest rate of telomere shortening.
  • The worst food for telomere health is processed meat (such as cold luncheon meats.
  • The most effective supplements are ones derived from astragalus and ashwagandha, two herbs which have been used for centuries in traditional Chinese medicine.
  • Exercise is another factor. The less we exercise, the shorter they tend to be.

Food groups associated with longer telomeres:

  1. Fish
  2. Other seafood
  3. Seaweed and algae
  4. Olive oil (and other sources of oleic acid)
  5. Milk and dairy.
  6. Cheese and cottage cheese
  7. Yogurt
  8. Coffee
  9. Nuts and legumes
  10. Oats
  11. Flax
  12. Spinach
  13. Mushrooms (also high in spermidine)
  14. Fruit (whole/unsweetened)
  15. Berries

Diets associated with longer telomeres:

  1. Mediterranean Diets (mostly plant based, but including some fish, cheese, eggs, poultry and rabbit meat)
  2. DASH diet (high in fruit and vegetables; also contains whole grains, and some lean meats, chicken, and beans)

* According to the Mayo Clinic, the key elements of the Mediterranean diet are:

  • Daily consumption of vegetables, fruits, whole grains and healthy fats
  • Weekly intake of fish, poultry, beans and eggs
  • Moderate portions of dairy products
  • Limited intake of red meat
  • “Fish are important in the Mediterranean diet. Fatty fish — such as mackerel, herring, sardines, albacore tuna, salmon and lake trout — are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, a type of polyunsaturated fat that may reduce inflammation in the body.”

Foods associated with shorter telomeres:

  1. processed meat
  2. alcohol (all kinds)
  3. sugary beverages
  4. soda
  5. soft drinks
  6. sport drinks
  7. energy drinks
  8. diet soda
  9. fruit juice 

More information:

Not medical advice

This article is not intended as, and should not be taken as, medical advice. I’m not advising that people eat any particular diet or take any particular supplement(s), just reporting on what I’m doing. Supplements, like medications and other interventions, can have side effects; I would encourage people to research both possible benefits and side effects before starting on any supplementation regimen, and consult with a medical professional about any issues which might have a medical component.  See full Medical Disclaimer

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