Home > 2020 March/April > Eating for Life: Dos and Don’ts for Women Over 50

Eating for Life: Dos and Don’ts for Women Over 50

Keto? Paleo? Vegan? Gluten-free? It seems there is an ever-expanding array of diets to choose from, depending on your lifestyle and health goals. For women over 50, making proper nutritional decisions can be even more essential than for younger women, as those needs begin to change with age. The good news is that small changes can equal big results.

A solid way to start is by filling your grocery cart with colorful “superfoods.” Thefinelinemag.com suggests berries, which are known for their anti-aging properties. Wild blueberries contain antioxidants, and studies link blueberry intake to Alzheimer’s disease prevention, the site says. Cranberries, which can aid in resolving urinary tract infections, are now thought to have effective cardiovascular benefits, as well. Other berries, such as strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, etc. are potent sources of antioxidants and phytochemicals that prevent inflammation and keep your digestive tract healthy.

Gastrointestinal functioning slows with age, so it’s important to focus on eating enough fiber to keep your system moving along, states nextavenue.org. Fiber-rich foods to incorporate into your regular routine are whole wheat pasta, lentils and green peas. Whole grains, such as oats, brown rice, quinoa, barley, and more are all great sources of fiber, B vitamins and important minerals. Fiber is also good for the heart and cardiovascular system, because it helps lower cholesterol levels  (thefinelinemag.com).

 Reducing the risk of cancer can be achieved by eating cruciferous vegetables, such as like broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, brussels sprouts and kale. They are also rich in folate and vitamins C, E and K, which are all important for keeping your immune system strong and combating inflammation. Vitamin K is especially important for maintenance of normal blood clotting, a factor to consider as you age (thefinelinemag.com).

Omega 3 fatty acids and their heart-protecting properties become especially important as women age, because the potential for heart disease increases, according to nextavenue.org. They are also important for cognitive function and keeping blood pressure in check. Try fish such as salmon, mackerel, tuna and sardines to get your fill. The risk of heart disease and stroke increases with age; lower it by eating foods that are high in potassium, such as bananas, pistachios, potatoes and avocados. A recent study of women aged 50 to 70 found that those who ate the highest amounts of potassium were least likely to experience a stroke (nextavenue.org).

Leafy greens, such as spinach, collards, swiss chard and kale, can be easily added to most meals—and they should be. They are rich in vitamin C, an antioxidant and immunity booster, as well as folate, which plays an important role in cognitive function. They are high in lutein and other carotenoids, which may delay the onset and progression of age-related macular degeneration (thefinelinemag.com).

 Calcium is widely known for building and maintaining strong bones and teeth and preventing osteoporosis, but it is also required for proper functioning of the heart, muscles and nervous system. (nextaveue.org). Good sources of calcium include yogurt, which is also full of protein and probiotics that help keep the digestive system functioning properly. (thefinelinemag.com). For those who are lactose intolerant, eat leafy greens or tofu that has been made with a calcium compound. Be sure to increase your vitamin D level also, as it aids in the absorption of calcium (nextavenue.org).

 

Now that you know what you should be consuming, avoiding certain foods can be just as important. According to finance.yahoo.com, nix meat products such as hot dogs, sausage and bacon, as they are high in fat, low in nutrition and contain cancer-causing additives. Be sure to read the labels on things and try to pick those with less than 30 percent of calories from fat. Protein bars are all the craze right now; however, many of them can be high in sugar and calories, and they are heavily processed. Instead, try blending a smoothie at home with frozen fruit, leafy greens such as raw spinach or kale, Greek yogurt and unsweetened almond milk. Doing so can be an easy way to get in the 1 1/2 cups of fruits and the 2 cups of vegetables that the USDA’s Choose My Plate website suggests for women over 50 to consume daily.

Following a healthier food regimen can do a body good, no matter your age. So, don’t wait until the big 5-0. Prevention is key. And the earlier you start, the better.

TIPS:

  • Since metabolism slows with aging, it’s important to adjust how many calories you’re eating daily. Generally, the range is 1,400-2,400 calories a day.
  • Consider supplements and age- and gender-specific multivitamins.
  • Like wine? Drink it like a Mediterranean: sip moderate amounts with meals.
  • Serve meat less often; keep portions small.
  • Eat mostly plants—a colorful variety.
  • Leave the table a little bit hungry. Portion control is an important factor.

Sources: nextavenue.org; thefinelinemag.org