The idea of aging can be scary for many people. Although it’s wonderful to accept this natural progression, there are ways to embrace this process gracefully while implementing certain preventative practices.

Luckily, a vegan diet already sets you ahead of the game because it’s rich in nourishing, plant-based food. But there are also plenty of specific ingredients you can focus on to provide extra help with guarding from aging. Not only can these assist with the specific appearance of getting older, but also preserve your youth on the inside by keeping you healthy on all fronts.

1. Dark Chocolate

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Let’s start out with one that you’re probably happy to see. Yes, dark chocolate can help protect from aging! This is due in part to its flavonoids, which can help to enhance blood flow. Getting ample blood flow to your body and skin is essential for preventing the signs and symptoms of aging. In addition, the antioxidants and resveratrol in dark chocolate can limit the extent of UV sun damage, which is a leading cause of visible aging. If for some reason dark chocolate isn’t for you, similar benefits can be reaped from alternatives like blueberries and red wine. Dig in!

You likely have no trouble figuring out where to put dark chocolate into your diet. But just in case you want some fresh ideas, here are some alternatives to eating it au naturale. These Chocolate Avocado Bars will give you an added anti-aging boost due to the Vitamin E and cell-protective nature of avocado. You can also make these No-Bake Chocolate Coconut Walnut Brownies for a naturally guilt-free reward.

2. Brussel Sprouts

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Get yourself looking and feeling youthful with a frequent serving of brussel sprouts. These amazing veggies provide key sources of Vitamin A, Vitamin C, and folate, which promote cell turnover and skin protection. What’s more, brussels’ antioxidants help to limit free radical damage and are anti-inflammatory.

Not only are brussel sprouts full of benefits, but they’re also delicious when cooked well. Enjoy them in some Orange Maple Glazed Brussels Sprouts, which offers extra anti-aging powers from the Vitamin C in the pomegranates and oranges. For a more unique flavor blend, highlight them in these Roasted Brussel Sprouts and Edamame With Curry Sunflower Seed Sauce.

3. Figs

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These often-forgotten fruits are packed with secret weapons against aging. Figs are rife with polyphenols, which are strong contenders against aging effects. This also prevents the breakdown of skin as easily, keeping you looking naturally fresh. On top of this, they’re great for encouraging collagen production.

In cooking, figs work wonderfully for both sweet and savory dishes. As a main course, use them in these Cheesy Cashew Cream Stuffed Figs With a Salad. Or, amp up the flavor with some Slow Cooker Tempeh Braised With Figs and Port Wine.

Of course, figs are also traditionally fitting in sweet treats like these Chocolate-Stuffed Figs in Date-Orange Sauce. Another decadent recipe is these Creamy Fig Cheesecake Bites. You can even make them a part of your morning ritual with some delicious Fig and Carob Muffins.

4. Kimchi

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Fermented foods aren’t just for digestion! Try eating kimchi more regularly for countless anti-aging perks. Kimchi’s fermented composition gives it glutathione levels, which allow for reduction of wrinkles, immune power, and cell strength. Few people are aware that kimchi has been analyzed in scientific studies for its specific anti-aging qualities.

Get your kimchi on with tons of flavorful recipes. For beginners, this simple Raw Kimchi Risotto is a great way to introduce yourself to this ingredient. Or, experiment with global fusion by making this creative Kimchi Poutine, which will surprise you in the best way possible. You can also use it the classic way in some Korean Kimchi Stew which is full of savory spice.

5. Mustard Greens

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Although greens are wonderful staples in any diet, all are not equal. Mustard greens in specific are certainly deserving of increased appreciation when it comes to youth. The Vitamin E in these fights free radicals, while its Vitamin A is great for free radical protection.

The flavor of mustard greens is also an amazing tool to work with. These have a bit of a spicy, peppery bite, making them perfect to elevate the flavor of your dishes. Incorporate them perfectly in this Shiitake, Tofu, and Mustard Greens Soup for a soothing yet exciting meal.

6. Aloe Vera

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There’s a reason why aloe vera is often referred to as the ‘ultimate anti-aging plant’. Although it’s often used topically for healing irritation, aloe vera is also great to take internally. This ingredient can limit exposure to ultraviolet radiation, as well as reduce inflammation. In addition, aloe vera is wonderful for increasing the production of collagen, which is a keystone component to aging prevention.

If you’re looking to gain all the benefits of aloe vera by ingesting it, there are plenty of ways to include it in a tasty way. These Raw Aloe Vera Brownies have all the flavor you desire, plus a boost of aloe vera’s texture and benefits.

7. Hemp

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Aside from their protein punch and nutrients, hemp seeds are incredible youth boosters as well. Whether applied to the skin or consumed, the emollient nature of these will help maintain moisture and elasticity. Hemp is also packed with omega-3 fatty acids, which allow for inflammatory calming and healthy cell membranes. On top of this, hemp is instrumental in easing stress, which we all know is a major catalyst for aging.

Luckily, hemp is quite versatile and has endless uses. Incorporate in these Lentil Quinoa Hemp Seed Meatballs at your next dinner for tons of satiating nutrients. You can also bring them to the sweet side in some Cherry Pie With Hemp Seeds and Walnut. Their nutty taste contribute perfectly to this dessert. Or, get even more hemp-spiration with this guide to Hemp Seeds: More Ways to Use This Protein Powerhouse Than You Ever Dreamed.

8. Asparagus

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These green beauties are key to a healthy body as well as aging prevention. Packed with Vitamin E, folate, and and anthocyanins, asparagus offers great protective antioxidants. Along with its anti-cancer propensity, these also help to guard the body from pollutants which accelerate aging.

You don’t just have to grill asparagus to enjoy it the way most do. Mix things up with a nutrient-packed Asparagus and Pepita Pesto for the perfect dip or spread. For more of an Indian-inspired rendition, make this Asparagus Tomato Dal which has tomatoes to supply further anti-aging action. You can also try some Asparagus Soup With Wild Garlic for a dose of healing benefits.

Not only are all of these ingredients wonderful for those concerned with aging, but they are also great for your body overall. Whether or not youth is at the top of your list, these will help you to look and feel your best.

For more delicious food ideas, check out the Food Monster App on both Android and iPhone, and can also be found on Instagram and Facebook! The app features over 10,000 plant-based, allergy-friendly recipes, and you can find new ones each day.

Lead Image Source: Addixon/Flickr