Make dinner plans. When men middle-aged and older eat on their own, the quality of their diet is more likely to suffer than those of women in the same boat, according to a study published in 2017 in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. “Some men who live alone skip meals, eat too much fast food and premade processed foods, and make poor choices in terms of nutrition,” Avitzur says. Research supports this observation. Men who live solo have a tendency to skip vegetables and fruit, and to choose ready-made meals, according to a review of 41 studies by Queensland University of Technology in Australia published in Nutrition Reviews. If you’re on your own, try using meals as time to socialize. Set a standing dinner date with a friend or relative. Having the company will ensure you eat and perhaps provide encouragement to make or buy something more nutritious.
Eat a heart-healthy diet to help your prostate. Anytime is a good time to start following a heart-smart diet. But if you’ve been diagnosed with low-risk prostate cancer that your doctor is managing through regular monitoring rather than immediate treatment, eating for your ticker may also improve your chances of surviving. According to an analysis of data from Harvard’s Physicians’ Health Study, men who ate a Western-style diet—high in red meat, refined grains, and high-fat dairy—were more than twice as likely to die from an earlier prostate cancer diagnosis than those who followed a cardiovascular-friendly diet based on fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fish, and legumes.
Feed your brain. Following the MIND diet (Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay)—a hybrid of the two plans it’s named for—has been linked to a lower risk of developing age-related cognitive decline. In a study published in the journal Alzheimer’s & Dementia, scientists at Rush University in Chicago tracked the diet of nearly 1,000 older adults for 4½ years. People who ate plenty of vegetables—especially leafy greens—and nuts, berries, beans, whole grains, fish, poultry, olive oil, and wine, and minimized red meat, butter, margarine, cheese, sweets, and fast food had brains that functioned as if they were 7½ years younger than those whose diets least resembled this pattern. Added bonus: “Both diets have been found to reduce the risk of cardiovascular conditions like hypertension, heart attacks, and stroke,” Avitzur says.
Get a protein boost. Age-related muscle loss known as sarcopenia begins in the 40s and causes us to lose as much as 50 percent of our muscle mass by age 80. Getting enough protein, Klosz says, along with exercise can help combat this loss. Taking in about 0.6 grams per pound per day can help men and women between the ages of 52 and 75 build muscle rather than lose it, according to research published in the American Journal of Physiology, Endocrinology and Metabolism. To keep up with your protein needs, include foods rich in the nutrient—like eggs, chicken, and fish—at every meal. Plant-based sources like lentils, beans, and tofu are just as good and may pack additional benefits.
Play it (food) safe. Adults ages 65 and older are at a higher risk for hospitalization and death from foodborne illness, according to the Department of Health and Human Services. Because it can be more difficult for the body to fight off pathogens and recover from illness, taking precautions to prevent foodborne illness is more important than ever as you age. Check recalls.gov to view or sign up for alerts on food recalls and food-related illness outbreaks. In your kitchen, be sure to toss any food that looks or smells suspicious. “When it doubt, throw it out,” says Amy Keating, a registered dietitian at Consumer Reports.