Healthy Eating As You Age: Know Your Food Groups

Healthy Eating As You Age: Know Your Food GroupsBuilding smart foods options is an crucial part of healthier aging. Knowing the unique food stuff teams — and how substantially of each should really make up your food plan — can enable you kind a healthful consuming pattern about time. This report describes the primary foods teams and other vital vitamins and minerals recommended for more mature older people in the Dietary Suggestions for Us citizens (PDF, 30.6M). We also present suggestions for how to fit occasional treats into your healthier ingesting sample.

It is essential to get the recommended quantity of every food team without having going in excess of your day-to-day recommended calories. Maintain in thoughts that the sum you should really try to eat to manage your pounds is dependent on your age, sex, and degree of physical exercise.

Principal food teams


Veggies come in a huge wide range of colours, flavors, and textures. They incorporate vitamins and minerals, carbs, and are an vital source of fiber. The vegetable food stuff group incorporates dark green vegetables, pink and orange greens, starchy vegetables, and legumes (beans and peas).

Darkish green greens consist of broccoli, collard greens, spinach, and kale. Crimson and orange vegetables contain acorn squash, carrots, pumpkin, tomato, and sweet potato. Starchy vegetables include corn, eco-friendly peas, and white potatoes. Other vegetables include eggplant, beets, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, celery, artichokes, environmentally friendly beans, and onions. Legumes consist of black beans, garbanzo beans (chickpeas), kidney beans, soybeans, and tofu. Legumes can also be counted in the protein food items team.

1/2 cup-equivalent of veggies equals:

See extra food items in the vegetable group.


Fruits deliver color, taste, and essential nutrients to your diet program. There are so lots of choices — citrus fruits like oranges and grapefruits various varieties of berries fruits that improve on trees, this sort of as apricots, cherries, peaches, and mangoes and other people like figs, grapes, and pineapples.

In accordance to the Nutritional Suggestions (PDF, 30.6M), older Individuals typically do not consume enough fruit. Adding much more fruit to your diet plan can have sizeable added benefits for overall health. Fruits, like greens, comprise carbohydrates and give excess fiber that can help retain your digestive method going. For even a lot more fiber, eat fruits with the skin on — just make sure you clean all fruits carefully prior to taking in. Whilst 100% fruit juice also counts toward this category, at the very least 50 percent of the fruits you try to eat should be entire fruits. When acquiring frozen, canned, or dried fruit, opt for choices that are least expensive in additional sugars.

1/2 cup-equal of fruit equals:

See extra meals in the fruit group.


Any food stuff manufactured from wheat, rye, rice, oats, cornmeal, barley, or other cereal grain is a grain item. This contains bread and pasta, breakfast cereal, grits, tortillas, and even popcorn. Grains — alongside with fruits, vegetables, and dairy — contain carbs, the body’s major supply of strength.

Study food stuff labels to locate grain selections that are small in saturated fats and added sugar. Be in particular wary of alternatives labeled “low-extra fat,” which can be superior in included sugar.

At least 50 percent the grain meals you eat need to be whole grains. Complete grains offer iron and numerous B vitamins, and they have fiber, far too. Examples of entire grains consist of whole wheat, full oats, complete bulgur (also known as cracked wheat), and entire cornmeal.

Some grain goods are refined, which offers them a finer texture and a extended shelf daily life but eliminates fiber and vitamins and minerals. Most refined grains are enriched, which implies that some nutrients are included back following processing. Illustrations of refined grain solutions include things like white flour, degermed cornmeal, white bread, and white rice.

1 ounce-equivalent of grain equals:

See additional food items in the grain group.

Protein food items

Proteins are frequently identified as the body’s developing blocks. They are used to make and fix tissues, and also help your entire body fight an infection. Your system works by using extra protein for electrical power. Older adults ought to test to take in a range of nutrient-dense proteins. Opt for lean (low-fat) meats and poultry. Maintain in head that you can also get protein from seafood, eggs, beans, nuts, seeds, and soy products and solutions. Protein from plant sources tends to be decreased in saturated body fat, is made up of no cholesterol, and supplies fiber and other wellbeing-advertising vitamins. Plant sources of protein, these types of as nuts and seeds, have unique nutritional value than plant-centered meat possibilities, which can be greatly processed and higher in sodium.

The Dietary Pointers (PDF, 30.6M) advise that you consume 8 to 10 ounces per week of a wide variety of seafood, not only for the protein but also due to the fact seafood consists of omega-3 fatty acids, these types of as EPA and DHA, which are great for your heart. Seafoods that are better in EPA and DHA involve salmon, anchovies, and trout. These seafoods are also decreased in mercury, which can be unsafe, than other forms of seafood.

1 ounce-equal equals:

See extra food items in the protein group.


Consuming dairy helps more mature grownups sustain robust bones and presents a number of important vitamins and minerals, such as calcium, potassium, and vitamin D. For your coronary heart health and fitness, select from the many low-fat or fats-cost-free possibilities in the dairy team. These give you crucial natural vitamins and minerals, with significantly less fats. Specific fortified dairy alternate options can present equivalent nutritional content to dairy.

1 cup-equal of dairy equals:

See more meals in the dairy team.

Other foodstuff

Some foodstuff are not in any of the main food teams. These include oils, which can be eaten on a regular basis as portion of a healthy eating plan, as properly as unhealthy fats, sugars, and energy from beverages, which ought to only be eaten often. There is no recommended every day ingestion sum in cups or ounces for these products. Limiting the calories you consume from this group can enable keep your healthy taking in habits on observe.

Oils & strong fats

Oils are significant in energy, but they are also an significant source of vitamins like vitamin E. For more mature grown ups, the each day allowance of oils ranges from 5 to 8 teaspoons, relying on activity amount. Oils incorporate monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, which are healthy fat that give you strength and assist the overall body take up certain vitamins.

Measuring your day-to-day oils can be difficult — figuring out what you insert although cooking or baking is just one point, but oil is the natural way a element of some foods.

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 massive 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 a lot more oil equivalents.

In common, attempt to use oils as a substitute of good fats, this sort of as butter or lard, which are high in saturated unwanted fat. Saturated fat take place by natural means in some foods, but they are also added to food items these as baked goods and potato chips. To reduce the saturated fats in your diet, consume low-fats or extra fat-no cost dairy items, choose cuts of meat with considerably less body fat, and take away the pores and skin from chicken. Looking at the Diet Information label can assist you keep monitor of how a lot saturated fat you eat.

You really should also preserve trans fats ingestion as reduced as attainable. Trans fats are destructive, and whilst they are staying phased out of a lot of products and solutions, they can however be located in some processed meals, such as microwave popcorn, frozen pizza, margarine, and espresso creamer.

Included sugars

three donuts with frosting and sprinklesLimit the consumption of food items superior in added sugar, which consist of sweetened cereals, highly processed snack foodstuff these kinds of as cookies and cakes, dairy desserts, and a lot of goods promoted as small-fat. Read the component listing to see if the meals you are having has additional sugar. Some important phrases to search for: brown sugar, corn sweetener, corn syrup, dextrose, fructose, and large-fructose corn syrup.


lattes on wooden table with plantsThough lots of drinks can be part of a balanced feeding on sample, some include calories with out adding dietary worth and you should avoid them. Beverages that are calorie-absolutely free — specifically drinking water — or that contribute useful vitamins and minerals, this kind of as body fat-cost-free and minimal-unwanted fat milk and 100% juice, must be the most important beverages you take in.

Espresso and tea. Ingesting espresso or tea barely delivers any calories unless of course you add sugar or cream, which are not nutrient-dense and should really be eaten in moderation. Be careful when purchasing beverages from espresso shops simply because these are generally loaded with additional sugars and fat.

Sweetened beverages. Examples of beverages that frequently have additional sugars are soda, fruit beverages, sports drinks, strength drinks, and sweetened waters. Most sweetened drinks do not contribute to conference foods team aims and normally incorporate a superior range of calories.

Alcoholic beverages. Alcoholic beverages is not nutrient-dense and is not aspect of the healthy having designs advised in the Nutritional Recommendations. If you take in liquor, do so in moderation, outlined as 1 drink or a lot less for every working day for gals and two drinks or fewer per day for adult males.

Energy from sugars, saturated and trans fat, and drinks can insert up rapidly. As these food items offer no dietary benefit, they need to only be consumed on event and in restricted quantities.

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This written content is presented by the NIH Countrywide Institute on Growing older (NIA). NIA experts and other authorities review this content material to assure it is exact and up to date.