Image linking to 5 tips for choosing healthier foods as you age infographic

Learn and share this infographic to find out about making more healthy meals selections as you age.

Making good meals selections is a vital a part of wholesome getting older. Understanding the totally different meals teams — and the way a lot of every ought to make up your weight loss program — may help you type a wholesome consuming sample over time. This text describes the primary meals teams and different necessary vitamins advisable for older adults within the Dietary Tips for Individuals (PDF, 30.6M). We additionally present solutions for how one can match occasional treats into your wholesome consuming sample.

It is very important get the advisable quantity of every meals group with out going over your every day advisable energy. Needless to say the quantity you need to eat to take care of your weight relies on your age, intercourse, and stage of bodily exercise.

Most important meals teams


Greens are available all kinds of colours, flavors, and textures. They include nutritional vitamins and minerals, carbohydrates, and are an necessary supply of fiber. The vegetable meals group contains darkish inexperienced greens, pink and orange greens, starchy greens, and legumes (beans and peas).

Darkish inexperienced greens embody broccoli, collard greens, spinach, and kale. Purple and orange greens embody acorn squash, carrots, pumpkin, tomato, and candy potato. Starchy greens embody corn, inexperienced peas, and white potatoes. Different greens embody eggplant, beets, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, celery, artichokes, inexperienced beans, and onions. Legumes embody black beans, garbanzo beans (chickpeas), kidney beans, soybeans, and tofu. Legumes may also be counted within the protein meals group.

1/2 cup-equivalent of greens equals:

See extra meals within the vegetable group.


Fruits carry shade, taste, and necessary vitamins to your weight loss program. There are such a lot of selections — citrus fruits like oranges and grapefruits; totally different sorts of berries; fruits that develop on bushes, similar to apricots, cherries, peaches, and mangoes; and others like figs, grapes, and pineapples.

In line with the Dietary Tips (PDF, 30.6M), older Individuals typically don’t eat sufficient fruit. Including extra fruit to your weight loss program can have important advantages for total well being. Fruits, like greens, include carbohydrates and supply additional fiber that helps preserve your digestive system transferring. For much more fiber, eat fruits with the pores and skin on — simply ensure you wash all fruits completely earlier than consuming. Though 100% fruit juice additionally counts towards this class, a minimum of half of the fruits you eat must be complete fruits. When buying frozen, canned, or dried fruit, select choices which can be lowest in added sugars.

1/2 cup-equivalent of fruit equals:

See extra meals within the fruit group.


Any meals constructed from wheat, rye, rice, oats, cornmeal, barley, or different cereal grain is a grain product. This contains bread and pasta, breakfast cereal, grits, tortillas, and even popcorn. Grains — together with fruits, greens, and dairy — include carbohydrates, the physique’s important supply of vitality.

Learn meals labels to seek out grain selections which can be low in saturated fats and added sugar. Be particularly cautious of choices labeled “low-fat,” which could be excessive in added sugar.

Not less than half the grain meals you eat must be complete grains. Entire grains present iron and lots of B nutritional vitamins, and so they have fiber, too. Examples of complete grains embody complete wheat, complete oats, complete bulgur (also called cracked wheat), and complete cornmeal.

Some grain merchandise are refined, which provides them a finer texture and an extended shelf life however removes fiber and vitamins. Most refined grains are enriched, which signifies that some vitamins are added again after processing. Examples of refined grain merchandise embody white flour, degermed cornmeal, white bread, and white rice.

1 ounce-equivalent of grain equals:

See extra meals within the grain group.

Protein meals

Proteins are sometimes known as the physique’s constructing blocks. They’re used to construct and restore tissues, and likewise assist your physique battle an infection. Your physique makes use of additional protein for vitality. Older adults ought to attempt to eat a wide range of nutrient-dense proteins. Select lean (low-fat) meats and poultry. Needless to say it’s also possible to get protein from seafood, eggs, beans, nuts, seeds, and soy merchandise. Protein from plant sources tends to be decrease in saturated fats, accommodates no ldl cholesterol, and offers fiber and different health-promoting vitamins. Plant sources of protein, similar to nuts and seeds, have totally different dietary worth than plant-based meat options, which could be closely processed and excessive in sodium.

The Dietary Tips (PDF, 30.6M) advocate that you simply eat 8 to 10 ounces per week of a wide range of seafood, not just for the protein but additionally as a result of seafood accommodates omega-3 fatty acids, similar to EPA and DHA, that are good on your coronary heart. Seafoods which can be greater in EPA and DHA embody salmon, anchovies, and trout. These seafoods are additionally decrease in mercury, which could be dangerous, than different kinds of seafood.

1 ounce-equivalent equals:

See extra meals within the protein group.


Consuming dairy helps older adults keep sturdy bones and offers a number of very important vitamins, together with calcium, potassium, and vitamin D. On your coronary heart well being, choose from the various low-fat or fat-free selections within the dairy group. These provide you with necessary nutritional vitamins and minerals, with much less fats. Sure fortified dairy options can present comparable dietary content material to dairy.

1 cup-equivalent of dairy equals:

See extra meals within the dairy group.

Different meals

Some meals will not be in any of the primary meals teams. These embody oils, which could be eaten recurrently as a part of a nutritious diet, in addition to unhealthy fat, sugars, and energy from drinks, which ought to solely be consumed sometimes. There isn’t a advisable every day consumption quantity in cups or ounces for these merchandise. Limiting the energy you eat from this class may help preserve your wholesome consuming habits on monitor.

Oils & stable fat

Oils are excessive in energy, however they’re additionally an necessary supply of vitamins like vitamin E. For older adults, the every day allowance of oils ranges from 5 to eight teaspoons, relying on exercise stage. Oils include monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fat, that are wholesome fat that provide you with vitality and assist the physique take in sure nutritional vitamins.

Measuring your every day oils could be difficult — realizing what you add whereas cooking or baking is one factor, however oil is of course part of some meals.

Teaspoons of oil:

  • Half a medium avocado has three teaspoons of oil
    1/2 medium avocado has 3 teaspoons of oil
  • Four large ripe olives have half teaspoon of oil
    4 giant ripe olives have 1/2 teaspoon of oil
  • Tablespoon of peanut butter has two teaspoons of oil
    1 tablespoon of peanut butter has 2 teaspoons of oil

See extra oil equivalents.

Typically, attempt to use oils as a substitute of stable fat, similar to butter or lard, that are excessive in saturated fats. Saturated fat happen naturally in some meals, however they’re additionally added to meals similar to baked items and potato chips. To decrease the saturated fats in your weight loss program, eat low-fat or fat-free dairy merchandise, select cuts of meat with much less fats, and take away the pores and skin from rooster. Studying the Vitamin Details label may help you retain monitor of how a lot saturated fats you eat.

Added sugars

three donuts with frosting and sprinklesRestrict the consumption of meals excessive in added sugar, which embody sweetened cereals, extremely processed snack meals similar to cookies and muffins, dairy desserts, and lots of objects marketed as low-fat. Learn the ingredient checklist to see if the meals you’re consuming has added sugar. Some key phrases to search for: brown sugar, corn sweetener, corn syrup, dextrose, fructose, and high-fructose corn syrup.


lattes on wooden table with plantsThough many drinks could be a part of a wholesome consuming sample, some add energy with out including dietary worth and you need to keep away from them. Drinks which can be calorie-free — particularly water — or that contribute useful vitamins, similar to fat-free and low-fat milk and 100% juice, must be the first drinks you eat.

Espresso and tea. Ingesting espresso or tea barely offers any energy except you add sugar or cream, which aren’t nutrient-dense and must be consumed carefully. Be cautious when ordering drinks from espresso retailers as a result of these are sometimes loaded with additional sugars and fat.

Sweetened drinks. Examples of drinks that always have added sugars are soda, fruit drinks, sports activities drinks, vitality drinks, and sweetened waters. Most sweetened drinks don’t contribute to assembly meals group targets and sometimes include a excessive variety of energy.

Alcohol. Alcohol isn’t nutrient-dense and isn’t a part of the wholesome consuming patterns advisable within the Dietary Tips. In case you eat alcohol, achieve this carefully, outlined as one drink or much less per day for ladies and two drinks or much less per day for males.

Energy from sugars, saturated fat, and drinks can add up rapidly. As these meals present no dietary profit, they need to solely be consumed occasionally and in restricted quantities.

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For extra data on wholesome consuming

This content material is offered by the NIH Nationwide Institute on Growing older (NIA). NIA scientists and different specialists overview this content material to make sure it’s correct and updated.