For men, every decade has its own health concerns, from weight creep to heart disease, all which change the types and amounts of food men need to eat during each life stage. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics encourages men to take time during Men’s Health Month to ensure they have developed a healthful eating plan that is most appropriate and beneficial for their age.
“Each life stage has its own nutritional requirements to keep your body running in peak form,” says registered dietitian nutritionist and Academy spokesperson Jim White. “Eating right at every age will help you sail through the decades feeling great.”
The Academy and its expert registered dietitian nutritionists offer tips to help men understand which foods will help boost their health at every decade of life.
20s: High Energy. “A higher metabolism and an active lifestyle can help younger men maintain a better weight, even if their diet isn’t stellar,” White says. “Eating foods like nuts, seeds and dried fruit instead of snacks like chips, soda and candy can satisfy your hunger and give a nutrient boost at the same time.”
Active guys need to be sure they’re getting enough protein. Choose a variety of foods like seafood, lean meat and poultry, eggs, beans and peas, soy products, and unsalted nuts and seeds. “Heart-healthy fatty fish like salmon, tuna and mackerel can reduce the risk of developing heart disease, too,” White says.
30s: Weight Doesn’t Wait. “While your appetite may stay the same in your 30s as in your 20s, your lifestyle has likely slowed a little due to marriage, kids and jobs. So now is the time to change to a more regular eating pattern,” White says.
Eating smaller, more regular and more frequent meals throughout the day will help you keep from getting too hungry and then overeating at a meal later in the day. “Plan healthy meals and snacks for your day, whether you’re at work or at home,” White says.
40s: Feed the Heart and Bones. As men age, the risk of heart disease becomes greater, and your 40s are the time to put more focus on heart health. “Fiber, especially soluble fiber found in peas, beans, oats, apples and citrus fruit, can help keep your heart healthy, because fiber works like a sponge to soak up cholesterol,” says registered dietitian nutritionist and Academy Spokesperson Ximena Jimenez.
Now is also a good time to reinforce strong teeth and bones. “Calcium from low-fat or fat-free dairy, dark green leafy vegetables or tofu, and vitamin D from fortified foods like milk and cereal are two of the best nutrients for your bones and teeth,” Jimenez says.
50s: Busting Disease. As certain diseases like cancer, especially prostate cancer, become more likely in the 50s and beyond, the key is to include plenty of antioxidants in your diet, such as those found in berries and colorful vegetables.
While lycopene, vitamin E and selenium are marketed to men as tools to reduce the chance of developing prostate cancer, there is no definitive science to back up these claims. “Whether there is a direct correlation between prostate cancer and these minerals or not, an overall healthy diet should contain both selenium and lycopene,” White says.
60s and Beyond: Maintain the Muscle. In their 60s and beyond, men start losing muscle mass, so protein is important. Replace protein foods that are higher in solid fats with choices that are lower in solid fats and calories or are sources of oils, such as salmon and tuna. “Also look at beans and peas. Because of their high nutrient content, they are considered both a vegetable and a protein food,” White says.
Information courtesy of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, the world’s largest organization of food and nutrition professionals. The Academy is committed to improving the nation’s health and advancing the profession of dietetics through research, education and advocacy.