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Aging and Nutrition

Content by: NCES, Inc.

No longer the golden years! Life beyond 50 is active, vibrant and healthy. Here are some great guidelines for healthy eating, calorie requirements and physical activity to help you reach your healthy lifestyle goals.

Aging and Nutrition


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A healthy lifestyle including a healthy diet and regular exercise can help slow down the onset of many age-related changes.

Grains: Make Half Your Plate Whole

Grains are a great source of carbohydrates, fiber, B-vitamins, iron, magnesium and selenium. Eat at least 3 oz. of whole grains daily such as whole grain cereals, whole grains or whole wheat bread, whole wheat pasta, whole wheat tortillas, oatmeal, brown rice, wild rice, popcorn, buckwheat and quinoa.

🥖 Eating 1 slice of bread, 1 cup of breakfast cereal or ½ cup of cooked rice, cereal, or pasta is considered a 1 oz. equivalent from the grain group.

Vegetables: Vary your Veggies!
Vegetables are power packed with many nutrients including carbohydrates, fiber, folate, vitamin A, vitamin C, potassium, calcium, magnesium and health-promoting phytochemicals. Fill half you plate with a variety of colorful veggies such as cauliflower, broccoli, spinach, tomatoes, colorful peppers, carrots, sweet potatoes, eggplant and more.

🥦 1 cup of raw or cooked vegetables or vegetable juice, or two cups of raw leafy greens is considered 1 serving from the vegetable group.

Fruits: Focus on Fruits
Fruits are full of many powerful nutrients including carbohydrates, fiber, folate, vitamin A, vitamin C, potassium and health-promoting phytochemicals. Eat a variety of colorful fruits such as bananas, green apples, strawberries, watermelon, cantaloupe, oranges, blueberries, grapes and much more.

🍎 1 cup of fruit or 100% Fruit juice, or ½ cup of dried fruit is considered 1 serving from the fruit group.

Oils: Make Wise Choices
Oils are 100% fat and provide some vitamin E, but few other nutrients. Oils include fats from many different plants that are liquid at room temperature, such as canola, corn, olive, soybean and sunflower oil. Some foods are naturally high in oils like nuts, olives, some fish and avocados.

🧁 Make most of your fat sources from fish, nuts and vegetable oil.

🧁 Limit fats that are solid at room temperature, such as butter, margarine, shortening, lard and foods that contain these fats.

🧁 Read the food label and limit foods made with hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated vegetable oils.

Milk: Get your Calcium Rich Foods
Milk and milk products provide the body with protein, carbohydrates, vitamin A and D, calcium, phosphorus, potassium and magnesium. Choose low-fat or fat-free milk, yogurt and other milk products. If you don’t or can’t consume milk, look for lactose-free products or calcium and vitamin D fortified foods and beverages.

🥛 1 cup of milk or yogurt, 1 ½ ounces of natural cheese, or 2 ounces of processed cheese is considered 1 cup from the food group.

Meat & Beans: Go Lean with Protein
Meat, poultry, fish, dry beans and peas, eggs, nuts and seeds provide the body with protein, many B-vitamins, iron, zinc and magnesium. Choose fish, skinless poultry and lean cuts of meats and use low-fat cooking methods like baking, broiling and grilling. Add variety with beans, peas, nuts and seeds.

🌮 1 oz. lean meat, poultry or fish, 1 egg, 1 tbsp peanut butter, ½ cup cooked dry beans or ½ cup of nuts or seeds are each considered a 1 oz. equivalent from the meat and beans group.

Calorie Levels
Calorie levels are set across a wide range to accommodate the needs of different individuals. The more active you are the more calories you need to maintain your weight. Our calorie needs decrease as we age, but our nutrient needs stay the same, making it even more important to choose nutritious foods.

NOTE: See chart for Calorie Range based on activity.

Healthy Eating Tips!
● Choose fiber rich foods, including fruits, vegetables, dry beans, whole grain breads, cereal and other whole grain products.
● Consume more fresh foods instead of highly processed items. Use less salt in cooking and at the table.
● Eat a variety of foods from within the food groups.
● Choose foods and beverages low in added sugars.
● If you drink alcohol, do so in moderation. What is moderation? One drink per day for women and 2 drinks for men.
● Wash hands often, before and after cooking or eating. Cook foods to a safe temperature.

What are Discretionary Calorie Allowance?

Answer: The remaining calories available after fulfilling your calorie requirements from each of the food groups.

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