According to the British Nutrition Foundation, 50-plus men tend to have slower metabolisms than guys in their 20s, and may require fewer calories overall to stay in good shape. They also benefit from foods that are rich in certain nutrients which support older men's health.
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 that men with the passing years, such as heart disease, high blood pressure, neurodegenerative diseases, osteoporosis, diabetes, and certain cancers. More specifically men who consume more lycopene seem have lower incidence of prostate cancer.
It's worth noting that processing and cooking tomatoes – for example as in tomato juice, tomato paste or ketchup turns lycopene into a form that the body finds easier to use. Oils and fats also help lycopene be better absorbed – for example a tomato salsa with avocado (a source of good fats) led to a 4.4-fold increase in lycopene absorption compared with salsa without avocado.
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, and have a low glycaemic index (GI), which can help reduce the spikes in blood glucose following eating that have been linked with an increased risk of type 2 diabetes. Try them steamed, mashed or roasted in their jackets with a drizzle of rapeseed oil.
How to cook sweet potatoes
The UK's number one killer, heart disease is more common in men than women, however the risk appears to even out for both sexes post-50. Nonetheless, maintaining a healthy cholesterol level is super-important for older men if they want to minimise their risk.
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 or 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. These include monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fatty acids, fibre, folate, the mineral potassium, which can help reduce blood pressure, as well as several plant chemicals. A 2018 study showed that having half and 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.
Bladder cancer is the fourth most common cancer in men, especially men over 50, according to NHS statistics. Evidence suggests a diet high in fruit and vegetables and low in saturated fat can help prevent this type of cancer, and several studies suggest that broccoli may have a preventive effect. The reason? 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 an anticancer effect. Aim for several generous portions a week should be enough to reap the benefits. Other cruciferous veg include cabbage, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, kale, spring greens, rocket, watercress, radish, wasabi and horseradish.
Delicious broccoli recipes
Muscle mass decreases as we age and sarcopenia, loss of muscle density and mass, increases significantly beyond the age of 50.
Research published in the British Journal of Community Nursing advises older people to up their protein intake and eat several portions throughout the day to nourish the muscles and help stave off sarcopenia. Eggs are a stellar of high-quality protein and contain a significant proportion of leucine, an amino acid needed for muscle synthesis, as well as many other nutrients that are important as we get older, including vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids. What’s more they are more affordable than other rich sources like fish or meat, plus they're low in saturated fat.
Older men may also want to add lean turkey breast to their shopping list – and not just for Christmas.
“Turkey is naturally low in fat and a rich source of high-quality protein and B vitamins including vitamin B6,” says registered dietitian and nutritionist Sarah Schenker.
Vitamin B12 in particular becomes more difficult to absorb as you age, so it's a good idea to boost your dietary intake if you're 50-plus.
A wonderfully nutritious addition to any older man's diet, the humble almond is packed with bloke-friendly health benefits and are brimming with protein and healthy fats.
Research suggests that eating almonds can help shift body composition in a more favourable direction helping to torch away belly fat, which can be tough to shift when you're 50-plus. And that's just for starters.
Almonds may also help lower bad cholesterol even if you are carrying fat around the middle.
Omega-3s provide a myriad health benefits for older men, from helping to maintain optimum brain function and heart health. They may also help to buffer against bowel inflammation, a factor in bowel cancer, which becomes more common as we get older. One in 15 men will be diagnosed with bowel cancer at some time with more than nine out of ten new cases (94%) diagnosed in people over the age of 50, and nearly six out of ten cases (59%) in people aged 70 or over.
Rich in protein, lean beef is a great dietary source of zinc. Older people are more prone to zinc deficiency, which the NHS advises can cause all sorts of potentially debilitating symptoms, from poor wound healing and skin rashes to loss of libido and hair loss.
Lean beef is also high in top quality protein and a first-rate source of muscle-boosting creatine and other vital amino acids , which may help combat sarcopenia that age-related muscle loss.
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