#13 – Potato pleasures
Women who eat fries twice a week increase their risk of contracting type-2 diabetes, a major disease affecting people post middle age, according to one study. Opt instead for organic potatoes baked, boiled in their skins or mashed with garlic and olive oil. Alternatively, try flavorful sweet potatoes.
#14 – Eat whole grains
Fiber-rich whole grains are a particularly good food choice as we age. In one study, people over 60 who ate the most whole grains were less likely to suffer metabolic syndrome, a group of symptoms implicated in heart disease and diabetes. They were slimmer, too. Whole grains are also rich in B vitamins and magnesium. Brown rice, for example, contains double the magnesium of white rice. A magnesium-rich diet is also essential for bone density. Choose organic to avoid pesticide residue.
#15 – Fat facts
Make sure your fat intake comes mostly from oily fish, avocados, walnuts and other nuts, extra-virgin olive oil, and flaxseed oil. Dietary fat is essential with age, especially if you have a small appetite or are frail. It speeds absorption of fatsoluble vitamins and carotenoids, offers energy and essential fatty acids, brings flavor, especially in meat, and reduces inflammation in diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis. Monounsaturated fats boost the health of the arteries and heart by increasing “good” and reducing “bad” cholesterol. They also decrease risk of breast cancer, according to a Swedish study. “Trans” fats are oils that have been hydrogenated to extend shelf-life. They have no nutritional benefits, increase risk of coronary heart disease, and have also been linked with cancer and skin disease. They are found only in processed foods, and aren’t always labeled, so avoid them by avoiding processed foods.
#16 – Eat butter
Go to the refrigerator now and throw away low-fat spreads and margarine. They taste nasty and are packed with additives you should avoid. Substitute organic butter—look for local farmhouse butter, which has a distinct crumbly texture. Use only a scraping if you are worried about the health risks of saturated fat, or drizzle on extravirgin olive oil instead.
#17 – Avoid artificial sweeteners
Many popular artificial sweeteners contain ingredients that may be harmful to your health. Check for aspartame (E951), which produces the toxin methanol, which the body can process only in small amounts, and has been associated with headaches and menstrual problems. Saccharin (E954) has been linked with bladder cancer. Acesulfame K (E950) has also been linked with cancer, while sorbitol (E420) and mannitol (E421) are associated with bloating.
#18- Discovering hidden sugar
It’s difficult to keep to the World Health Organization’s recommended daily limit for sugar (no more than 10 percent of your daily food intake) when it appears in so many forms in packaged, processed foods. If any of the following come near the top of an ingredients list or the product contains more than one in addition to sugar, leave that breakfast cereal, ketchup, or diet food on the shelf:
• dextrose • glucose • corn syrup • sucrose • fructose • HFCS (high fructose corn syrup)
#19 – Protein provision
Aim for two servings of protein a day, from meat and fish, legumes, nuts, or dairy produce. In one osteoporosis study, people with the highest intake of protein maintained bone mineral density significantly better than those who ate less.
#20 – Fish for health
Oily fish such as salmon, sardines, and mackerel are high in omega-3 fatty acids, which protect brain and eye health, protect the heart, can ease depression and guard against inflammation that can cause stiff, painful joints. Aim for at least two portions a week.
#21 – Which fish is best?
Opt for small fish lower down the food chain, such as sardines, herring, and anchovies, as well as wild salmon. These contain 16 times fewer PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls—cancer-causing neurological toxins that accumulate in the body) than farmed salmon according to a study by the Environmental Working Group. Larger carnivorous fish higher up the food chain have been found to contain high levels of environmental pollutants, including mercury, dioxins, and PCBs.
#22 – Red meat for iron
Red meat is a particularly good source of iron, which older people tend to be deficient in. Serve meat with green leafy vegetables and a glass of fresh orange juice to maximize absorption.
#23 – Eating poultry
Chicken is a good source of selenium, involved in DNA repair and cancer protection; niacin, which helps protect brain function as we age; and vitamin B6for energy and healthy heart and blood vessels. Choose free-range chicken fed an organic diet. To seal in flavor and moisture leave the skin on while cooking.
#24 – Leave processed meat on the shelf
For colon health don’t include a great deal of processed or cured meat in your diet, urges a Canadian study. This includes bacon, hot dogs, and salami. Preservative nitrites in salami and “pressed ham” have been associated with increased risk of colon disease. In the same study, choosing fresh red meat or chicken breast seemed to lower the risk of disease by 39 percent.
#25 – Veggie protein
In recent years many research studies have underscored the health benefits of plant-derived protein as we age. Include nuts, seeds, and fiber-rich legumes, such as black beans, in your diet daily for protection against heart disease and stroke.