in spanish | Whether you’ve been eating healthy your whole life — or have recently fallen off the nutrition bandwagon — it’s important to take a close look at your diet after age 50. At this point, experts say, it pays to be more picky about your foods, and make sure you’re getting enough nutritional boost for your money. says Kristen Rosenblum, RD, registered dietitian, professor emeritus at Georgia State University and co-author of Food and fitness over 50. “There is less room to drink a jug of margaritas and have a basket of chips – unless we want to see that weight creep up. And nobody wants that.”
In addition to adapting to a potentially slower metabolism, you also want to compensate for things like a tendency for bones to weaken, slowed bowel function, and decreased muscle mass (about 1 percent per year until age 65, after which the loss can double). In general, older adults need to make sure they get plenty of fruits and vegetables, eat lean meats if they eat meat, chicken, or fish, and avoid saturated fats and sugars, says Mary Bernard, MD, deputy director of the National Institute on Aging ( NIA) and chief geriatrician at the NIA. “A good diet can help to better control blood pressure, reduce the risk of heart disease and contribute to the prevention of things like diabetes and cancer.”
To build your own healthy diet, remember that “foods work together in concert,” says Joseph Gonzalez, a Mayo Clinic registered dietitian. “You need a whole symphony for an amazing piece of music.” But if you add these seven foods to your orchestra, you’re on your way to a healthier tune.
Berries provide “holistic nutrition” for over 50 people due to their high content of fiber, vitamin C, anti-inflammatories, antioxidants and flavonoids. “Fiber helps keep us regular, manage our weight, and protect against diseases like diabetes, heart disease, and cancer,” says registered dietitian Nancy Farrell Allen, a spokeswoman for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Men 51 and older should eat 30 grams per day, and women 50 and older should eat 21 grams per day.
Berries also appear to be beneficial for our aging brains. “Bilberries contain powerful antioxidants that may improve motor skills and short-term memory,” Allen says. This is why they are an essential part of the MIND diet, which focuses on foods that fight delayed neurodegeneration. (“Other brain-healthy foods from this brain-healthy diet include vegetables, beans, whole grains, nuts, seafood, and poultry.) A study from Tufts University last year looked at 20-year eating by 2,800 people age 50 or older and found that those who ate the most A few foods rich in flavonoids, such as berries, apples, and tea, were two to four times more likely to develop dementia.