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What to eat in middle age

Eating a varied and balanced diet is important for anyone. It helps to make eating more enjoyable and will help you to stay healthy and active, says NHS Choices. Make sure you're eating plenty of:

Foods rich in starch and fibre

Bread, rice, pasta, cereals and potatoes are good examples. As well as being low in fat they are good sources of other essential nutrients: protein, vitamins and minerals.

The fibre from these helps to prevent constipation which reduces the risk of some common disorders in the intestine.

Don't be tempted to buy raw bran and sprinkle it on your food to increase fibre as this may prevent you absorbing some important minerals.

Oats, beans, peas, lentils, fruit and vegetables are also sources of fibre.

Iron-rich foods

Eating plenty of iron-rich foods will help keep up your body's store of iron. The best source of iron is red meat. It can also be found in pulses (such as peas, beans and lentils), oily fish such as sardines, eggs, bread, green vegetables and breakfast cereals with added vitamins.

Liver is a good source of iron. However, it is also a rich source of vitamin A and having too much vitamin A can be harmful. See vitamin A below.

It's a good idea to avoid drinking tea or coffee with iron-rich meals because this might affect how much iron the body absorbs from food.

Foods and drinks rich in vitamin C

These might help the body absorb iron, so you could have some fruit or vegetables or a glass of fruit juice with an iron-rich meal. Fruit, especially citrus fruit, green vegetables, peppers, tomatoes and potatoes are all good sources of vitamin C.

Foods containing folic acid

These help maintain good health in older age. Good sources are green vegetables and brown rice, as well as bread and breakfast cereals that have vitamins added.

Calcium-rich foods

Osteoporosis is a major health issue for older people, particularly women. This is where bone density reduces and so the risk of fractures increases. Good sources of calcium are dairy products such as milk, cheese and yoghurt. Remember to choose lower-fat varieties when you can or eat higher fat varieties in smaller amounts. Calcium is also found in canned fish with bones, such as sardines. Other sources of calcium include green leafy vegetables (such as broccoli and cabbage, but not spinach), soya beans and tofu.