Consumers Getting Smarter about Health, Nutrition

As the oldest of the 78 million "baby boomers" turn 60 this year, it is apparent that consumers in the United States are not getting younger; however, they are getting smarter about their health, according to a report by the North American Olive Oil Association (NAOOA).

In particular, consumers are making smarter choices about the types of food and exercise they need during different stages of life. "While people should eat nutritious foods throughout their lives to maintain and protect health, nutritional needs change as we get older,” explained Elizabeth Somer, registered dietitian and author of several nutrition books, in a press statement. “Therefore, adjusting diet based on age is important.”

Experts reportedly suggest that people of all ages should eat colorful fruits and vegetables such as blueberries and spinach, whole grains such as oats, lean protein such as chicken breast and fish, and certain healthy fats found in foods such as olive oil. These foods provide the vitamins, minerals, fiber and other nutrients that help promote health and protect against serious diseases, including cancer and heart disease.

"Choosing these good-for-you foods, while avoiding foods that are unhealthy, has a profound effect on future good health," continued Somer in the report. "Besides, eating well is so easy. For example, olive oil, which is loaded with heart-healthy monounsaturated fat, can be used in place of other oils, butter or margarine in sauteing, cooking and baking."

According to NAOOA, research supporting the heart-health benefits of olive oil was strong enough for the U.S Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to approve a health claim linking the consumption of olive oil to a lowered risk of heart disease.

If people have not developed good eating and exercising habits by their 20s and 30s, now is the time to start, said the group. "Aging begins much earlier than people realize, so the sooner people make diet and exercise changes to promote health, the more likely they will avoid premature aging and age-related diseases," said Somer.

For example, people reach peak bone mass around age 30, meaning bones have reached maximum density. Therefore, after age 30, people need to focus on slowing inevitable bone loss by choosing foods packed with bone-building nutrients such as calcium and vitamins D and K, said the report.

Women in this age group also should consume foods rich in iron, a nutrient that aids in carrying oxygen to tissue and preventing fatigue. Weight management is an important health issue for people in their 40s and 50s, said the report. People who are not vigorously active at this age begin trading muscle for fat. Additionally, metabolism begins to slow during these years. This combination results in weight gain that can elevate the risk of developing certain diseases. Choosing foods rich in nutrients that also are lower in calories becomes increasingly important.

To eat for this age, people should consume at least three servings of calcium-rich foods each day, including nonfat milk; calcium-fortified orange juice; or plain, low-fat yogurt. Also, people should continue to eat colorful fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and legumes, as well as foods containing heart-healthy fats, including olive oil, which can help lower cholesterol levels.


Eating well throughout adulthood pays off when people reach their 60s. According to NAOOA, consuming healthy foods helps prevent the most common diseases that afflict this age group, including diabetes, cancer, stroke, hypertension and heart disease.

People in their 60s should continue with the healthy eating habits established earlier in life by enjoying a diet rich in vitamins, minerals and fiber found in fruits and vegetables as well as healthy fats, such as the monounsaturated fat found in olive oil. They also should add strength-building exercise to their aerobic routine to protect against muscle loss associated with loss of balance, frailty and feebleness.


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