Choosing the Right Foods After Age 50

by Barry Hill
Meat and vegetables on a plate

Knowing what foods are right for you can be challenging, especially as your nutritional needs change with aging. Lucky for you, we’ve compiled the foods that you should and shouldn’t be eating after 50!

Foods You Should Avoid After Age 50

For proper nutrition, avoid eating these foods (and drinks!) after age 50.

 

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Deli Meats

While a deli sandwich is a classic snack or lunchtime meal, daily sando dining carries risks. According to the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), consuming 50 grams of processed meat a day increased risk of developing colorectal cancer by 18 percent. If you do eat deli meat, check the ingredients and food label to ensure it contains no nitrites, nitrates, or additives.

Soft Drinks

Whether they are normal or diet sodas, soft drinks are very unhealthy. Studies have linked these beverages to obesity, diabetes, and even higher risk of heart disease. When you pass the age of 50, you should already be watching your blood pressure to keep it at healthy levels, not encouraging it to spike by guzzling a Diet Coke at lunch every day!

High-Sodium Foods

 

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As you probably already know, a diet that is high in sodium is harmful to your blood pressure levels, and can therefore increase your risk of kidney and heart disease and stroke.

High-Sugar Foods

Beyond avoiding highly processed sweet treats, such as candy bars, you should take care to stay away from all sugars as you age. Research has shown that there may be a relationship between diets with a minimal consumption of sugar and a longer lifespan. In addition, lots of sugar in your food can cause your skin to look older than it is, and contribute to other symptoms of aging.

[Related: Avoiding Sugar for a Healthier Diet After Age 50]

Bag-Steamed Veggies

I know the appeal — it’s been a long day at work, and it’s oh-so-easy (and seemingly health-conscious) to microwave a bag of veggies to eat alongside your rotisserie chicken. However, those steam-in-the-bag green beans may be hurting your health by drawing some substances from the plastic bag into your food: bisphenol-A (BPA) and phthalates. These substances mimic the hormones in your body in a negative way to influence your health.

Bacon

Arthritis is one of the more common effects of aging. Unfortunately for the bacon-lovers out there, this flavorful item aggravates joint pain and arthritis because its omega-6 fatty acids cause inflammation (while omega-3 fatty acids in items such as salmon can combat it).

[Related: Understanding Good and Bad Carbs and Fats]

Alcohol (in Excess)

 

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While regularly drinking a glass of wine with dinner is recommended for several health benefits, beyond-moderate alcohol consumption (greater than seven drinks per week) on a consistent basis is harmful to your heart and liver, which are two organs you definitely need to keep healthy as you age.

Healthy Foods for Your Diet After Age 50

As you ease off the processed foods listed above, replace them with these healthy options.

Almonds

Almonds are full of monounsaturated fatty acids and plant fibers that help control and lower cholesterol levels and maintain blood vessel help. They’re also good for brain development, bones, the immune system, and reducing inflammation.

Apples

Apples are high in fiber, good for respiratory issues, and anti-inflammatory. They’re a great source of pectin, which lowers cholesterol. (And they keep the doctor away!) If you don’t like eating apples alone, try tossing them in a salad or dipping them in low-sugar peanut butter.

Avocados

Avocados are referred to as a superfood for a good reason. These fruits (yes, fruits!) contain twice the amount of potassium as a banana, and are high in healthy fats and fiber. Their healthy fatty acids help slow digestion, which prevents blood sugar from spiking after eating — keeping your energy levels maintained throughout the day. Chop avocado up in a salad, smear it on a sandwich or burger, or add some salt and pepper and eat it by the forkful.

Black Beans & Other Legumes

Black beans are a high-fiber choice that helps regulate the digestive tract, which in turn helps regulate blood sugar. They’re great for your heart, are full of flavonoids and antioxidants, which help fight cancer, and have vitamin B6 and folate, which help the nervous system!

The glycemic index of black beans and other legumes is low, which means that the body processes and releases glucose very slowly into the bloodstream. Type 2 diabetes is a very real problem for all populations, but older adults tend to be less active than younger people; and foods with a low glycemic index help to prevent the body from becoming insulin-resistant, which is the major contributor to type 2 diabetes.

Blueberries

Blueberries are chock-full of antioxidants, which help your body eliminate free radicals. The color of blueberries is due to high amounts of anthocyanin, which is thought to protect against cardiovascular disease and cognitive decline. Blueberries also help prevent cancer and bolster your immune system!

Broccoli

 

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Can’t go wrong with roasted broccoli 😉

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Broccoli is loaded with vitamin C and beta-carotene. It is low in calories and high in nutrients, so you can eat large portions of broccoli to feel fuller while not overindulging! Broccoli is also full of vitamin K, which helps blood clot properly.

Cranberries

Cranberries are one of the best natural urinary tract infection preventers out there. They’re a natural diuretic and help remove bacteria from the urinary tract. Research also shows that they can help reduce plaque buildup on teeth! Cranberry juice is typically high in sugar, though, so double-check the nutritional information before you drink.

Carrots

The bright orange color of carrots is due to beta-carotene, a precursor to vitamin A, which, among many other benefits, supports vision and skin health.

Dark Chocolate

Dark chocolate helps with blood flow, managing cholesterol, and can protect you from heart disease! In moderation, it can also help improve insulin sensitivity and reduce the chances of diabetes.

Additionally, dark chocolate has a high percentage of cacao to provide natural caffeine and theobromine, a component found in cacao plants and tea leaves that acts as a natural antidepressant.

Eggs

 

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Low in calories but packed with protein, this classic breakfast staple can be fixed a number of delicious ways so you’ll never get bored. The protein in eggs helps sustain your energy levels, and the vitamin B assists in breaking down what you digest for sustainable fuel.

Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Extra virgin olive oil is high in vitamin E, which helps your skin and hair look and feel great, and helps your skin heal faster when it’s injured. It has a soothing effect on ulcers and gastritis, and helps promote pancreatic health. It’s also a great antioxidant and promoter of heart health.

Fish

Fatty fish such as salmon, tuna, and cod are naturally high in vitamin D, which is necessary for the body to utilize calcium. Vitamin D is also thought to be protective against some cancers, heart disease, and high blood pressure, all of which are issues for older adults.

These types of fish also have high levels of omega-3 fatty acids, specifically EPA and DHA, which are part of the group of polyunsaturated fats that afford many health benefits. Omega-3 fatty acids are thought to reduce inflammation, especially in the arteries, protecting against atherosclerosis (or “hardening of the arteries).”

[Related: Best Foods to Reduce Inflammation & Relieve Arthritis]

Researchers have begun to find that fish oil supplements may not offer the same benefits as eating the whole fish, so focus on whole foods instead of relying on omega-3 capsules.

Garlic

Garlic is super for cholesterol levels, particularly lowering bad cholesterol. It’s known to help lower blood pressure (something we could all use after 50!) and reduce the odds of digestive tract cancers.

Green Tea

Whether drank hot or cold, this delicious tea contains nutrients and antioxidants to fight inflammation and prevent cell damage. It also has caffeine, and will provide an energy surge with less of a comedown than drinking a soda or pounding an espresso shot. Mix it with lemonade in the summer, or have a hot cup of it with honey in the chillier months.

Oranges

 

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Did you know that one orange can provide over 100 percent of your recommended daily dose of vitamin C? Juicy, tart, and sweet, these citrus fruits also have antioxidant compounds that provide protection from oxidative stress, which can cause major fatigue.

Oysters

Besides being a natural aphrodisiac, oysters are a great source of energy. They are loaded with iron, which helps bring oxygen to cells for an extra boost. Oysters also contain high levels of vitamin B12 and zinc, which are great for keeping your immune system in tiptop condition.

Plain Yogurt

 

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When bacteria ferment lactose — the sugar found in cow’s milk — yogurt is formed. The lactobacillus bacteria that is used to make yogurt is a probiotic, which is a beneficial bacteria that can live in our digestive tract. Probiotics offer many health benefits, including:

  • Maintaining the balance of good bacteria and producing substances that can inhibit the growth of disease-causing bacteria
  • Signaling the immune system to reduce inflammation, which is thought to be responsible for many chronic diseases
  • Producing vitamin K, which is necessary for proper blood clotting, bone metabolism, and blood vessel health

This simple snack is easy to grab for a quick pick-me-up, or can be added to your cereal or smoothies for a tasty upgrade. Packed with protein, vitamin B6 and B12, and broken-down simple sugars, yogurt provides ready-to-use energy with its lactose contents, and the protein in yogurt slows down the absorption of that lactose to make the energy last.

Quinoa

Quinoa is a complete protein (and an herb!), with all nine essential amino acids. It is filling and satisfying like meats, but spares you the fats and cholesterols. Quinoa is also high in vitamin B, which helps neurological function!

Red Beets

 

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How to roast whole beets http://buff.ly/2l508Nw in season!

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Red beets are rich in a plethora of vitamins and nutrients that make them an amazing natural anti-inflammatory, and are an excellent source of folate, vitamins C and B6, iron, calcium, magnesium, zinc, and riboflavin. It’s a pretty complete nutrient package!

Spinach & Other Leafy Greens

Spinach is full of iron, calcium, antioxidants, and folate. There is a long list health benefits for spinach, but our favorite is that it’s good for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

Often older adults do not get the calcium they need because of lactose intolerance or the fear of cholesterol, both of which are in dairy products. The good news is that green leafy vegetables, such as spinach, are an excellent source of calcium. One caveat is that the body also needs vitamin D to absorb the calcium, so you’ll need a good source of vitamin D, either from supplements, fatty fish, or fortified dairy products.

Wheat Bran Cereal

Wheat bran cereal doesn’t have to be boring. Pieces of fruit and a drizzle of honey are enough to zest up any bowl of this energy-packed breakfast. High in fiber and complex carbohydrates, the nutrients in bran cereal will translate into a steady energy maintainer throughout your day.

How has your diet changed since you’ve turned 50? Share your story with us!

 

Featured image via TONL

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