Book Excerpt: Joan Collins on Staying Young

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In 1970 only 4 percent of American children aged six to twelve were overweight. Today, that number is over 15 percent. Who knows what it will be in the next decade? It's a terrifying thought. We live in the fast-food era where many kids and adults eat fatty hamburgers or hot dogs or rich takeaways, prepackaged and packed with additives, or frozen food that just needs to be reheated, for most meals. Although many people say they don't have time to cook, healthy stir-fries and pasta with tomato sauce do not take that long to prepare.

Junk food is just that -- junk. Although I rarely ate hamburgers, I stopped eating them altogether when I saw a picture of a woman who had taken a bite out of one in a burger joint and found she had bitten into a mouse! Ugh! If I ever had a reason to stop, that was it. Nevertheless, the fast-food industry is a multibillion dollar business, and I'm sure they must put something addictive in those burgers for everyone to crave them so much and so often. One of the most chilling statistics I discovered when writing this book was that a third of all human cancers are directly related to diet. Another recent report by Britain's Office for National Statistics confirmed that the number of diabetics in Britain could double by 2020, largely due to the British dislike of healthy food, and some scientists have linked this to bad eating habits, lack of exercise, and obesity. But there is some positive news. In a move designed to protect companies from the kind of lawsuits brought against the tobacco industry, junk food companies in the States are to warn consumers that eating too much of their products could fatten them up. The project, which is backed by the International Food Information Council Foundation, could lead to packaged foods such as chocolate cookies and chips having similar warnings.

Sugary fizzy drinks are also bad for your body. They are loaded with sodium, artificial additives, and colorings, and the bubbles can make you extremely bloated. I never drink sodas and I might have a couple of Coca Colas a year, but never Diet Coke as I believe the ingredients in it, particularly the artificial sweetener and aspartame, are bad for you. And I've been told they can make you depressed or feel tired. I've never allowed my own children to drink fizzy or so-called energy drinks. I always gave them natural fruit drinks.

So, for super-youth, here is my list of super foods to help halt the onset of the disease and aging process:

• Chicken -- white meat only, not the skin

• Lean beef (but only occasionally)

• Salmon and mackerel

• Tuna, trout, haddock, and cod

• Skimmed or low-fat milk

• Non-processed cheese

• Low-fat yogurt

• Skimmed mozzarella cheese

• Leafy green vegetables, especially broccoli

• Fresh vegetables

• Fresh fruit and juices, but not from a can

• Whole grains

• Brown rice

• Whole-wheat flour

• Couscous

• Pinto, haricot (navy), and kidney beans

• Olive oil

• Sunflower oil

• Peanut oil

• Safflower oil

• Hummus

• Taramasalata

• Anchovies (canned or fresh)

• Sardines in olive oil

• Nuts (particularly almonds, which are reputed to have cancer- preventing qualities)

• Wine (in moderation). Studies of 1,555 New Yorkers by scientists at the University of Buffalo prove that people who drink wine, particularly white wine, have healthier lungs than those who drink beer or spirits. Red wine, too, brings down cholesterol as it thins the blood.

• Chocolate (also in moderation)

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