Pop quiz: What’s in your refrigerator right now?
Even when you think you’re eating healthy, digging around in the back can reveal surprising things such as…
- An expired carton of eggs circa 2016
- Eight pounds of salad
- A bottle of fish oil capsules you bought and forgot about completely
Or maybe that’s just me.
Here’s the thing. When it comes to bad habits, you can quit smoking, give up gambling and forgo alcohol.
In extreme instances (see last week’s post), you can even allegedly live without coffee. Although I beg to differ.
But food? Gotta have it, at least in some form if you want to remain in the game of life.
Back in the day, when dinosaurs ruled the earth, we had little choice. If you were hungry, you’d pack up your bow and arrow, stick some leaves and twigs in your hair, and head out into the forest.
If you didn’t become a T-Rex’s meal, you had a shot at bringing home the bacon, so to speak.
Or at least a handful of edible berries.
Today, the chase has become significantly easier. Instead of hunting down berries you can either go into Whole Foods and buy the same pack of wild grown fruits for the bargain basement price of $15.
Better yet, get them delivered straight to your door for the same price plus a service charge of $10 on top of a $15 delivery charge. This brings the grand total to $40 for a handful of organic raspberries, which still beats ending up in a dinosaur’s digestive tract.
On most days, the biggest danger we face is being rear-ended by a texting teenager before we reach the grocery store.
That aside, what should we women over 50 stock up on and why?
Great question, thanks for asking. And yes, I answer myself in real life most of the time, too.
Let’s start with what’s NOT on the list:
- Pop Tarts
Now that that’s out of the way, let’s focus on what would be ideal to find in that frig and pantry…
1. Raspberries (and high fiber fruit)
Yes, these little suckers can be a bit pricey, but they contain one of the highest levels of fiber among all fruit, surprisingly enough. I don’t know if it’s the little nooks and crannies or tiny seeds, but at 8 gms a cup, they beat out apples, pears, bananas and just about every other fruit. Toss ’em in yogurt or on top of salads, if you’re a real rebel.
Fiber not only helps with digestion, but research shows a high-fiber diet can even help you lose weight. Non-fruit fiber sources include legumes, oatmeal, popcorn and whole grains.
Aim for 25 grams daily.
2. Salmon (and other lean protein)
Omega-3s may be the closest thing to a one-stop ageless mind and body food out there, and salmon is chock full of the stuff. Omega-3 fatty acids perform a multitude of duties, including helping reduce heart attack risks such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol.
If you’re not a fan of salmon, strive for other lean protein such as skinless chicken or vegetable protein such as soy, although these won’t have the same omega-3 levels of salmon. Aim for about 20 gms of protein per meal — and include protein in snacks as well.
Why? Protein keeps you full longer and boosts your metabolism. Can’t argue with that.
3. Greek yogurt
In olden days we used to shun plain yogurt for its tart aftertaste. Greek yogurt is not only higher in protein than other, traditional, yogurts, but it’s considerably smoother and less “tangy.” Go with fat-free or low-fat and stir in berries for a great, simple, high-protein snack or light breakfast.
After 50 we’re at a higher risk of bone loss, so calcium in dairy is crucial, as well as vitamin D. The Institute of Medicine recommends 1,200 mg of calcium daily for women over 50, but check with your doctor. Other good dairy foods include low-fat milk and cheeses or dark leafy greens such as kale and broccoli, if you’re lactose intolerant.
Oh, wait, aren’t these high-calorie? Yup, if you pour them into a bowl and eat them like a bowl of Froot Loops.
But in small doses — an ounce, at approximately 160 calories — you get a lot of bang for your buck as far as snacks go. Plus, research shows nuts don’t seem to add up to poundage as you may think.
In fact, a five-year study showed people who ate nuts lost more weight than those who abstained — and were less likely to become overweight.
They also contain protein fiber, vitamin E, minerals, and antioxidants. Ideally, you want the unsalted, raw versions.
Okay, technically not a “food,” but considering we’d die without it, water is pretty important. Problem is, most of us walk around slightly dehydrated. Even a small level of dehydration (1 to 3%) can affect your hunger mechanism (you think you’re hungry but you’re really in need of fluid), mental concentration, energy levels, and skin, among other things. Strive for the recommended 9 to 11 cups a day (for more info, check out my article in Health.com on the subject HERE).
YOUR TURN! So what’s in YOUR refrigerator? Let’s chat… leave a comment down below.
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