Eating after the age of 50 shifts dramatically. In order to stay healthy, experts say you should boost your intake of whole grains, leafy greens and other vegetables while eschewing processed foods.
''Unfortunately, as we age our metabolism slows, plaque tends to accumulate in our arteries, and certain organs like our kidneys, liver and pancreas may start to get a little sluggish so our diet becomes even more important,'' Tara Gidus Collingwood, MS, RDN, a leading sports nutritionist and personal trainer from Orlando, Florida, tells Newsmax.
''Portion is one of the biggest things I focus on with aging clients. Instead of going on a crash diet, just eat a little less, use smaller plates or leave a few bites of food behind. Would you rather it goes on your waist or in the wastebasket?''
According to AARP, here are five foods you should skip when you are over 50:
- Fried foods. Preparing food in a vat of fat is a surefire way to triple the calories and increase cholesterol, nutritionists says. Invest in an air fryer or grill your food instead.
- Sugary drinks. This includes sweetened teas, says Christine Rosenbloom, co-author of ''Food and Fitness After 50.'' ''For example, the 16-ounce chai latte at Starbucks, one of its most popular drinks, has 42 grams of sugar,'' she tells AARP. Read labels, she advises. ''Just because a drink says 'pure' or 'green tea' or 'honey' doesn't mean it has less sugar.''
- Packaged foods with hidden sugars. Sneaky sugars can be found in many foods besides beverages. Pasta sauces, yogurt, granola bars and other ostensibly healthy foods may contain added sugar that not only adds unnecessary calories to your diet, but also increases the risk of heart disease, diabetes and dementia. Again, read labels carefully to check the amount of sugar in the food you buy. Experts say that you should not exceed 50 grams of extra sugar daily.
- High-sodium meals. ''Seventy-five percent of people over age 60 have high blood pressure. And even if you're on medication, you want to lower your sodium intake,'' says Rosenbloom, adding that 75% of our salt intake comes from processed foods, not the salt shaker. She tells AARP that it's important to choose products with less than 5% sodium or less. Anything in the 20% range is too high.
- Ultra-processed foods. Skipping foods that come out of a bag, box or can will not only save you calories but also improve your overall health, say experts. While minimally processed foods such as bagged frozen vegetables, canned tomatoes and frozen fruit are good choices when fresh fruit and vegetables aren't in season, it's cake mixes, snacks, and many frozen pizzas that contain unwanted amounts of sodium, food coloring and preservatives that you don't want to include in your diet. Experts say that today, the average American gets nearly 60% of their calories from ultra-processed foods. Read labels, or better still, cook at home, says AARP
Nutritionist Collingwood, author of the ''Flat Belly Cookbook for Dummies,'' recommends eating these five superfoods instead if you are over 50:
- Wild salmon. The American Heart Association recommends eating fish twice a week, particularly fatty fish such as salmon. Fatty fish are higher in omega-3 fatty acids, which fight inflammation and remove triglycerides from the blood. Better yet, salmon is a complete protein, meaning it contains all the essential amino acids.
- Dark, leafy vegetables. Collingwood says that as we get older, our bones become softer, and we need more calcium. ''That's something you can get from low-fat dairy and dark leafy green vegetables,'' she says. Some examples are kale, arugula, broccoli, and spinach.
- Black beans. Black beans are an excellent source of soluble fiber, the type of fiber that is difficult to come by. Soluble fiber is a nutrient key to blood sugar regulation and cardiovascular health. It works to slow the rate at which food moves through the digestive tract, meaning you do not experience blood sugar highs and low as easily. It also helps to pull cholesterol from the blood, lowering your LDL cholesterol and reducing your risk of coronary heart disease, Collingwood explains.
- Nuts and seeds. A handful of these protein-rich snacks daily provide fiber and healthy fat. Walnuts, flax meal and chia seeds all contain ALA omega-3 fatty acids, which are converted to EPA and DHA omega-3 fatty acids, says the expert.
- Berries. Berries are perfect for the over-50 crowd because they are high in fiber, vitamin C, and anti-inflammatory, antioxidant flavonoids. Blackberries contain higher levels of fiber and antioxidants than most other berries. As for its antioxidants, berries contain concentrated levels of flavonoids that are natural brain boosters and help reduce the age-related decline in motor skills and cognitive activity.
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