Nutrition and You!

Decade By Decade: What Men Should Eat


June kicks off National Men’s Health Month. Whether for yourself, or if the men in your life encompass your brother, uncle, son, nephew, spouse, or significant other, the nutritional needs for men change as they age. Every decade of a man’s life comes with different nutrition and health needs and concerns. It could be the weight that is creeping up on the bathroom scale or trying to ward off heart disease, no matter, there are corresponding dietary changes that need to occur, according to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. “Eating right at every age will help you sail through the decades feeling great,” claims registered dietitian nutritionist and Academy Spokesperson Jim White.

Here are some age-specific diet tips from the Academy and its expert registered dietitian nutritionists for all the men in your 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.”

While active guys need to be sure they're getting enough protein, there is no time like the present to choose heart-healthy, protein-rich foods. 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 it 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, including plenty of antioxidants in the diet, such as those found in berries and colorful vegetables, is key.

While lycopene and selenium supplements are marketed to men as tools to reduce the chance of developing prostate cancer, there is no definitive science to back up these claims. Look to the food sources instead. Watermelon, tomatoes, and pink grapefruit are ringers for lycopene, and nuts, salmon, and tuna fish are super sources of selenium.

60s and Beyond: Maintain the Muscle
In your 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 heart-unhealthy fats and calories or are sources of heart healthy 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.

Click here for men-approved meal ideas that are made for the grill.

Be well, Joan

Follow Joan on Twitter at: @JoanSalgeBlake

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