Updated: Feb 5
At 50plus making healthier food choices can be an important step on a road that ultimately leads to a healthier diet, lifestyle, and sex life.
As we age our metabolism slows so at 50plus we may well require fewer calories than when we were younger to stay in shape. Fine-tuning our diet to reflect our changing calorie requirement is a key element of a healthier lifestyle.
Making healthy choices will improve our overall health, energy and quality of life. Improving our diet can also help us prevent or control certain diseases, such as diabetes, osteoporosis, heart disease, high blood pressure and cancer.
Here are 6 foods that we feel you should be eating @50plus.
Tomatoes – and tomato-based products like tomato sauce - are loaded with lycopene, a red pigment with powerful antioxidant and potential anti-cancer properties.
Lycopene is a member of a family of plant chemicals called carotenoids (also found in things like watermelons, papaya, pink grapefruit, pink guava and carrots (the redder the better).
Lycopene helps protect against several diseases such as heart disease, high blood pressure, neurodegenerative diseases, osteoporosis, diabetes, and certain cancers, all of which are widely found in 50plus men.
Note: Processing and cooking tomatoes – for example as in tomato juice, or ketchup turns lycopene into a form that the body finds easier to use. Oils and fats also help lycopene to be better absorbed.
2. Sweet potatoes
Several studies have linked diets high in carotenoid-rich veggies with a lower risk of prostate cancer.
Sweet potatoes are an outstanding source of beta-carotene, an important carotenoid. Sweet potatoes are also bursting with potassium, an essential mineral for older men's health. They have a low glycaemic index (GI), which can help reduce the spikes in blood glucose after eating. These spikes have been linked with an increased risk of type 2 diabetes.
Note: Try them steamed, mashed or roasted in their jackets with a drizzle of rapeseed oil.
More than 36,000 deaths for men aged 50 and over were attributed to Coronary heart disease (CHD) in 2013. Figures published by the Office for National Statistics UK show that CHD is still the leading cause of death in England and Wales.
Maintaining a healthy cholesterol level is very important for men over 50 who wants to minimise their risk of disease.
Oats contain a soluble fibre called beta-glucan that is scientifically proven to lower LDL (bad) cholesterol. According to the cholesterol charity, Heart UK three servings of oat-based products such as a bowl of porridge, oat-based cereal bars or oatcakes provide around 3g of beta-glucans, the daily amount needed to help to lower your cholesterol.
Avocados are packed with heart-healthy nutrients including both monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fatty acids, as well as fibre, folate, and the mineral potassium; all of which can help reduce blood pressure.
A 2018 study showed that having half an avocado for breakfast helped to lower levels of harmful blood fats and increased elasticity of the arteries, something that is linked with lower blood pressure as well as reducing many other potential ‘markers’ of heart disease risk.
According to NHS statistics, bladder cancer is the fourth most common cancer in men, especially men over 50. Research suggests a diet high in fruit and vegetables and low in saturated fat can help prevent this type of cancer, and some studies have gone as far as to suggest that broccoli may have a preventive effect.
What's special about Broccoli? Broccoli and its relatives in the so-called cruciferous family of vegetables contain plant chemicals called glucosinolates, which are converted active compounds called isothiocyanates, thought to have anti-cancer effects.
Try several generous portions of these green wonder foods into your body a week. Other cruciferous vegetables include cabbage, brussels sprouts, cauliflower, kale, spring greens, rocket, watercress, radish, wasabi and horseradish.
Salmon is an excellent source of Omega-3 and Omega-3s provides myriad health benefits for men who are 50plus including helping to maintain optimum brain function and heart health. Research indicates that Omega-3 may also help to buffer against bowel inflammation, a factor in bowel cancer.
Note: How you cook your food is as important as what you choose to eat.
Choosing how you cook is almost as important, as choosing what you cook. Making the wrong choices about how you or others prepare your food can turn a good food choice into a bad food choice very quickly. Equally a bad food choice can be substantially improved by making the right cooking choice. Take for example chicken. If cooked the right way chicken can be an excellent high protein, low-fat meal. If it's cooked the wrong way for example deep-fried (and purchased from your local chicken shop) it can contain high saturated fat food disaster.
Healthy cooking methods include steam, bake, grill, braise or boil. Modify dishes that include butter or requires you to deep fry or sauté in animal fat. A good tip is to try a low-fat air-fryer. I have just bought an air-fryer and I love it.
In these challenging times when staying fit is more important than ever, introducing these food types into your diet just might be that first step on your road to better health.
Author: Diane Simpson (Previously practised as a Dietitian in Nutrition and Dietetics).