Healthy eating is important at any age. But as you get older, your body changes. Your metabolism slows down, so you’ll need fewer calories. You may also need an additional boost of nutrients. Calcium, vitamin D, vitamin B12, potassium and dietary fiber are essential.
The good news is that simple changes can make a big difference in your overall health. Switching from refined grains, added sugars and solid fats to whole grains, fresh fruits, and healthy oils are key starting points to meeting your nutritional needs.
Choosing to add a few superfoods for people over 50 — and, indeed, for everyone — can help you maximize your health in your senior years.
Superfoods to Include in Your Diet
To get the most out of your diet, include a variety of foods from across the food groups, including vegetables, fruits, grains, proteins, dairy and oils. Try to reduce your consumption of added sugars, sodium and saturated fats.
Superfoods help you get multiple benefits in every serving. You can include them in a menu plan that focuses on healthy eating choices. Superfoods are some of the best examples of foods to eat after 50 for long-term health.
Dark green leafy vegetables
These salad staples boast high levels of calcium and fiber. That helps keep your bones healthy. Collard greens, mustard greens and broccoli are all great sources of these nutrients. Kale is a low-calorie, nutrient-dense leafy vegetable that has calcium, potassium, vitamin A, vitamin K and magnesium. To increase your intake, consider adding a leaf to a sandwich on whole-grain bread or as a garnish on your dinner plate.
Dairy products, like cottage cheese and yogurt, contain calcium and protein. Yogurt is also a good source of vitamin B12, magnesium and potassium. Some brands of yogurt are also fortified with vitamin D. When you choose yogurt, read the label to learn about its additives and sweeteners. Plain and Greek yogurt styles typically have the highest health benefits without added sugar.
Berries, such as blueberries, are high in vitamin C and fiber. They also contain antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties. Adding berries into your diet can also provide overall health benefits, like possibly helping keep blood sugar levels stable and providing a healthier alternative to sugary or processed snacks. Both fresh and frozen berries are good for you, so eat them on their own or as part of a breakfast smoothie.
Nuts and seeds
Nuts make for a healthy snack, containing protein and fiber. Some nuts, like walnuts, also contain the building blocks of omega-3 fatty acids. Eat just a handful of nuts per serving — good choices are pecans, almonds, cashews and peanuts — to handle periods of hunger between meals.
Seeds are also highly beneficial. Flax seeds and chia seeds both contain healthy fats. Hemp, pumpkin and sunflower seeds are other good options. Put sesame seeds on your shopping list; these are often consumed as-is or as tahini, another healthy snack choice.
Beans and legumes
Fresh or canned beans come packed with protein and fiber. They are low in calories and high in iron, potassium and magnesium. They are a lean protein, which means it’s lower in fat than many other protein sources. Canned beans can contain high levels of salt. Choose a low-sodium can and be sure to rinse the beans before eating. Beans are great in soups or tossed in a salad with leafy greens.
Salmon is one of the best foods to eat in your 50s and beyond; it is another source of lean protein and helps seniors to maintain muscle mass. Fish also contains omega-3 fatty acids and B12, both essential nutrients. It has potassium, antioxidants and can help prevent inflammation. Salmon also has selenium, a trace mineral that can support bone health.
Oatmeal is a whole grain that is also high in fiber. It helps to lower cholesterol and maintain healthy digestion. Oatmeal is a great choice for breakfast; it is filling but relatively low in calories, at about 150 per serving. To keep your breakfast staple as healthy as possible, skip the sugar or syrup. You can add sweetness with berries, bananas, peaches or almost any other fruit.
Vitamin A is an important nutrient to support eye health, and sweet potatoes are packed with vitamin A. These colorful vegetables are also high in vitamin C, vitamin B6, potassium and fiber, all with a relatively low calorie count. In addition to supporting your vision, sweet potatoes may also reduce cancer risk.
Why Choose a Provider at Intermountain Healthcare?
Choosing to add more superfoods to your diet is one way you can take charge of your health as you get older. Your primary care provider can also provide information and support as you manage your physical and mental wellness. Intermountain Healthcare is dedicated to all aspects of your health, from preventive to acute care.
Our myGeneration Senior Clinics are exclusively for people on Medicare. With care providers that offer twice as much time for in-person appointments, you can be sure your questions will be answered. Intermountain Healthcare offers care close to home, with options for virtual visits for your convenience and safety. To learn more or to book an appointment, get in touch with us today.
*This article is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for medical advice or diagnosis from a physician or qualified healthcare professional.