If you’re over 50 years old, you’ve likely noticed that food affects your body differently than it did in your younger years. While a nightly indulgence in ice cream used to be a delightful and harmless routine, you may now find that this habit has a more significant impact on your health or how you feel.
Your doctor may have advised you on eating habits that promote bone strength and regulate blood sugar, and there’s a good reason for that. As we age, our nutritional requirements change, and the adage “you are what you eat” becomes more pertinent than ever.
For women experiencing menopause, declining estrogen levels can lead to decreased bone mass, necessitating a higher intake of calcium-rich foods to fend off osteoporosis. Additionally, both women and men may experience reduced insulin production over time, resulting in blood sugar imbalances and the potential onset of Type 2 diabetes. Metabolism also tends to slow down, especially after reaching age 60, making calorie-heavy foods more likely to lead to weight gain. Given that heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States, adopting a heart-healthy diet is crucial.
Now, while this may sound a bit disheartening, there are certain foods that can help mitigate age-related health issues. Here, a geriatrician and registered dietitians share the top food choices for individuals over 50 to consider when grocery shopping:
- Flavourful herbs like parsley, saffron, or rosemary: Instead of relying on salt, which can contribute to high blood pressure, consider using herbs like parsley, saffron, or rosemary to season your meals. They can add rich flavors with minimal or no added salt.
- 1. Beans (e.g., chickpeas, black beans): Beans are a great addition to the diet for those aged 50 and over. They provide fiber, plant-based protein, and support heart health, blood sugar management, and weight control. If using canned beans, rinse and drain them to reduce sodium intake.
- 2. Low-fat cottage cheese: Cottage cheese, especially low-sodium or no-salt-added options, is a high-protein food suitable for various meals or snacks. It pairs well with fruit for a sweet and savory combination or can be used in dips for fresh vegetables.
- Dark leafy greens (e.g., spinach, kale, chard, broccoli): These vegetables are rich in fiber, iron, magnesium, potassium, and calcium, promoting heart health and aiding in weight management and blood sugar control.
- 3. Berries (strawberries, blueberries, blackberries): Berries are packed with antioxidants, helping reduce inflammation and offering anti-cancer properties. They are also high in fiber, making them an excellent choice for managing blood sugar.
- 4. Salmon (preferably wild-caught): Salmon is a top choice due to its omega-3 fatty acids, benefiting heart and brain health. It’s lower in saturated fat compared to red meat.
- Nuts and seeds (almonds, walnuts, flaxseeds, chia seeds): These are rich in heart-healthy fats, fiber, and essential nutrients. They support healthy cholesterol levels, digestive health, and plant-based protein intake.
- 5. Lean protein (chicken, turkey, eggs, tofu, legumes, lentils): Opt for lean cuts of meat, eggs, or plant-based proteins to maintain muscle, support immune function, and facilitate wound healing.
- Quinoa and brown rice: Whole grains like quinoa, brown rice, whole wheat, and oats are high in fiber and complex carbohydrates. They provide sustained energy, aid digestion, and help regulate blood sugar levels, reducing the risk of metabolic diseases.
While nutritional needs may become more intricate with age, simple dietary adjustments can lead to delicious and straightforward ways to modify your eating habits. So, start composing that grocery list!