When it comes to eating a healthy diet in your 60s and beyond, your protein and calcium intake are two of the key issues to consider.
Our dietary needs change as we get older and while we may not feel as hungry as we once did, some of our nutritional needs actually increase.
Changes to the body, such as those in our muscles and bones, mean we need to boost our diet with even more protein and calcium-rich foods than in our younger years.
When we get older we lose muscle, and without proper care they can become weak over time. This can affect our strength and balance and ultimately our ability to lead an independent life.
One of the best ways to prevent muscle loss later in life is through a protein-rich diet, combined with strengthening exercises. And the key is to consume protein-rich foods across two meals every day rather than just one.
Protein is a vital building block of muscle and, when combined with strengthening exercises, can help build and maintain healthy muscles.
As an added bonus, protein-rich foods are often filled with other nutrients that help us meet our daily requirements for other essential nutrients.
Accredited practicing dietitian Margaret Hays says the best way to ensure you’re eating enough protein is to include protein-rich food in least two meals each day.
“Protein-rich foods come with a whole load of other nutrients required for good health, which is important when you’re aiming to make every bite count nutritionally,” Hays said.
“Protein-rich dairy, for example, is also an excellent source of calcium, which is important for bone health.”
Calcium helps strengthen bones, reducing the risk of fracture. To get enough calcium, three to four serves of dairy foods a day – which also contain good-quality protein – are recommended.
Protein is found in a range of foods, including red meat, fish, chicken, dairy, eggs, legumes, and nuts.
But how do you know how much protein-rich food to have at each meal? The handy table below outlines how much of each protein-rich food to aim for when constructing healthy balanced meals.
Choose a variety of protein-rich foods, such as red meat three to four times a week for iron and zinc; and fish twice a week for omega-3. Eating a variety of protein-rich foods will help fill your body with the nutrients it needs to stay healthy, and combining this with strengthening exercises will ensure you retain the muscle mass that’s vital for an active, independent life.