As we grow older, our interests, priorities and eating habits change, so it’s no surprise that our nutritional needs do, too. The core principles of a healthy diet remain the same at 25 or 65. We need a balance of different nourishing foods to enable us to look and feel our best; however, our bodies do require specific nutrients as we go through different life stages.

Healthy Diet for Your 20s

It is said that your 20s are the most important decade of your life — that certainly holds true for what you eat. We often forget to take care of our bodies and neglect healthy practices because we prioritize other elements of our lives. Recent studies found that people in their 20s eat 25 percent more fast-food meals than they did in their teens. Grabbing dinner on the go means you may be missing out on crucial nutrients.

Try these diet habits:

  • Get your macronutrients: The three essential macronutrients are fat, carbohydrates, and protein. When someone refers to a “balanced diet,” it means you’re getting the proper balance of these three macronutrients.
  • Add more potassium: Potassium isn’t produced naturally by the body, so it’s important to consume the right balance of potassium-rich foods. They assist in a range of essential body functions, including blood pressure, digestion, and heart rhythm. To add more potassium in your diet, have a banana with breakfast, avocado with your lunch, and salmon with dinner.
  • Choose quality over quantity: Your body won’t process the calories from a slice of cake or a can of soda in the same way it would a nutritious, whole-food meal or snack. Since junk food lacks nutrients, it can increase hunger and ultimately cause weight gain.

Healthy Diet for Your 30s

Life can move fast in your 30s if you are juggling career and family. Many people start out the day by skipping breakfast, or grab a quick on-the-go bite to complete everything on their to-do list. Skipping breakfast and relying on quick, convenience foods high in salt and sugar results in low fiber intake.

Try these diet habits:

  • Add more whole rains: Adults should consume at least 2 ounces of whole grains per meal, which is ¼ of your plate. Consider including 100 percent whole wheat bread, brown rice, quinoa, and whole grain cereal into your diet.
  • Antioxidantrich food: Consuming foods rich in antioxidants may be good for your heart health, and may also help to lower your risk of infection. Increase your antioxidant intake by eating more nuts, seeds, legumes, fruits, and vegetables.
  • Keep a well-stocked fridge: When you’re hungry, studies show that people often reach for whatever food is closest to them. The easiest way to keep yourself from making unhealthy food choices is to fill your fridge with pre-cut veggies, fruit, or slices of cheese.

Healthy Diet for Your 40s

As we grow older, good nutrition and regular exercise become even more important. A diet rich in antioxidants helps protect against health issues like heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and certain types of cancer.

Try these diet habits:

  • Eat iron-rich food: You need iron to build up red blood cells to bring oxygen into the body. Without enough red cells, your body does not get enough oxygen and begins to feel weak and tired. Spinach, broccoli, chicken, and sweet potatoes are all good foods to increase your iron intake.
  • Increase calcium intake: Calcium plays a crucial role in the health and functioning of nerves and muscle tissue. To ensure you get the required amount of calcium, eat three servings from the dairy group daily. Snack on calcium-rich nuts like nuts or almonds throughout the day. Keep a container of nuts and seeds with you and have a small handful as a daily snack.
  • “Eat the rainbow”: To keep inflammation levels and free radical damage under control, add a variety of antioxidant-rich foods to your meals and snacks. Reach for berries, leafy greens, or real dark chocolate throughout your day.

Healthy Diet for your 50s

As we age, we need fewer calories. Choosing the most important calories can be hard. While you can’t stop aging, there are many ways you can improve your nutrition habits that will lead to a higher quality of life.

Try these diet habits:

  • Eat healthy fats: Saturated fats are bad for your arteries and heart health, and they may also harm concentration and memory. Cut down on red meat, butter, and cream. Add more fatty fish and fats from plants, like flaxseed and nuts. These healthy fats may have extra benefits for your heart and brain.
  • Swap out salt: Blood pressure tends to rise as we age. Nearly one in three American adults have high blood pressure. Reduce salt intake to one teaspoon per day. One way of cutting back on your salt intake is when buying frozen vegetables: choose those that are labeled “fresh frozen” and do not contain added seasoning or sauces.
  • Get protein: Increase your intake of protein-rich foods to support and maintain energy, support collagen, and growth repair of cells. Consume at least 1 g protein per lb. bodyweight per day. Try a minimum of 60 percent calories from fat, with the remainder of your calories from protein, and the rest from high-quality carbs, such as vegetables and berries. Include poultry, lean meats, legumes, eggs, fish, and cottage cheese.

Healthy Diet for 60+

As we grow older, the body becomes less efficient at absorbing and using vitamins and minerals. Long-term use of prescription drugs reduces the absorption of certain nutrients. It becomes even more important to eat healthy and nutritious food when our appetites start to decrease.

Try these diet habits:

  • Eat sources of B12: When we age, our ability to absorb vitamin B12 tends to decrease. Getting enough B12 is a challenge because we don’t absorb it from food as well as younger people. Foods that are high in B12 include tuna, beef, bran cereal, salmon, and eggs.
  • Add zinc: Eating more zinc helps to boost the immune system, which weakens with age.
  • Delicious Vitamin DVitamin D is a key player in making sure you get enough calcium in your diet to keep your bones healthy. Research shows that those who are severely deficient are also at risk for dementia. Eggs, oily fish, and fortified soy and dairy are all good sources.

Bon appetit!

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