Lately my articles have talked about the exercises that I recommend for people over 50, but what about foods? How much are the foods we eat affecting our aging brain and body?
Turns out – a lot!
Healthy Fats for Brain and Heart Health.
YES, there are healthy fats that we SHOULD be eating!Many of us were brought up to give all our attention to counting calories and ignore the healthy fats and other nutrients like vitamins and minerals that our body needs. There is plenty of evidence available now that we really shouldn’t be doing this anymore.
Vasanti Malik, a research scientist at Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health says “Fat helps give your body energy, protects your organs, supports cell growth, keeps cholesterol and blood pressure under control, and helps your body absorb vital nutrients. When you focus too much on cutting out all fat, you can actually deprive your body of what it needs most.” Another benefit of eating more “good” fat and less “bad” fat is that this can keep the brain healthy, says Malik. Studies have found a strong association between people who follow a Mediterranean diet/lifestyle and a lower risk of Alzheimer’s disease.
Now that we’re over 50, it’s time to let our old ways of thinking go and pay more attention to the food and type of exercising that will help us remain as healthy as possible for as long as possible.
Most people have heard that avocado, nuts, coconut and olive oil have the healthy fats that we need for optimum health. When sauteing or making salad dressings, experiment with something different and see what you think. Avocado oil, coconut oil, macadamia nut oil, olive oil, sesame oil, all contain beneficial types of fat.
Animal-based protein also contains healthy fats, but the old habits of eating huge amounts of prime rib or steak at a meal need to be examined and changed if we want to be healthy as we age. Grass-fed beef, bison, or lamb can be safe choices, as long as you don’t eat them daily, and make sure that your individual helping is no larger than the size of the palm of your hand. Mix in more poultry or fish. For fish, your choices are plentiful! Try anchovies, arctic char, catfish, herring, king crab, mackerel, salmon, sardines, sea bass, snapper, sole, trout, tuna, clams, mussels, oysters, or scallops.
Processed foods, ice cream, candy and hot dogs, kielbasa, and bacon do not contain the nutrients that our body needs. You already know this.
Here’s the thing though, eating a treat like ice cream occasionally is not going to make you unhealthy. Eating it 3-4 times a week is. Eat some Halloween candy on Halloween, then toss the left overs!
In short, the Mediterranean way of eating is the way to go; it isn’t a “Diet,” but rather, a way of life. Dr. Sean Heffron, a preventive cardiologist at NYU Langone Health says “This isn’t a diet that was cooked up in the mind of some person to generate money. It’s something that was developed over time, by millions of people, because it tastes good. And it just happens to be healthy.” I agree! The food is delicious!
For many years, study after study has confirmed that the Mediterranean way of eating can help prevent diabetes and heart disease. There are now additional studies that have found that this diet can protect against oxidative stress, which can cause DNA damage that contributes to chronic conditions like neurological disease and cancer.
Here’s a mediterranean dinner recipe that I happen to love – give it a try and see what you think!
Best of Health,