Senior Nutrition: Eating Right for Healthy Aging
Eating a well-balanced diet can start to become more difficult throughout the aging process. The metabolism slows down, which leads to a decline in physical activity and the body needing fewer calories to function properly. However, even though seniors’ appetites have decreased, they still need the same nutrition as they did in their younger years—if not more!
Recent research reveals that certain types of food offer benefits above and beyond others. These “superfoods,” or “power foods,” aid in fighting disease, strengthening bones and boosting immunity, all which can drastically improve quality of life.
The Best Power Foods for Seniors
A recent article published in AARP Magazine featured several power foods that are especially beneficial to senior health. Whether they help prevent cognitive decline, lower cholesterol, protect the heart or prevent the onset of chronic conditions or even cancer, it’s important to consider adding these types of food to any senior diet plan.
A few examples of power foods for seniors include:
Blueberries. Blueberries contain a high level of antioxidants, which boost immunity by protecting the cells of the body from damage, as well as restoring cells to healthy levels. Blueberries also help decrease brain damage due to stroke or dementia.
Whole grains. Whole grains help lower the risk of heart disease, stroke and diabetes. Plus, seniors who eat a healthy breakfast with plenty of whole grains feel fuller longer, so they are less likely to overeat throughout the day.
Seafood. The omega-3 fatty acids in seafood like salmon help preserve bone density, can reduce blood pressure, prevent heart disease, prostate cancer, lower cholesterol, and even reduce pain from arthritis.
Eggs. Eggs are low in saturated fat and provide lutein, which can aid in eye health by warding off macular degeneration. Plus, recent studies reveal that egg yolk, previously thought to be high in cholesterol, can actually slow cholesterol absorption.
Avocados. While high in fat, avocados are full of that good, unsaturated fat plus plenty of fiber, vitamins C and B6 and folate, which can help decrease the risk of heart attacks.
Healthy Eating Tips for Seniors
It’s not uncommon for seniors to get stuck in a rut when it comes to their eating habits. Plus, studies show that seniors who eat alone are more at risk for health issues stemming from malnutrition. A few healthy eating tips to ensure seniors are not only incorporating power foods into their diets, but also are decreasing their risk for malnutrition include:
- Do some meal planning. To eat as healthy as possible, it’s important to plan meals for the week ahead. Research some recipes ahead of time, and also prepare healthy snacks by pre-chopping veggies, portioning out plastic baggies with granola or nuts, or go for options like yogurt that require no preparation at all.
- Keep taste buds in mind. If seniors know they will enjoy the meal, they will be more likely to be a part of the clean plate club. Consider individual tastes and put a healthy spin on the classic dishes they love, like substituting zucchini noodles for spaghetti.
- Design a colorful plate. Brightly-colored vegetables, like broccoli and carrots, and deeply-colored fruit like berries and melon make a plate appealing to the eye, so don’t hesitate to add these options to each meal.
- Spice it up. Changes in smell and taste are common throughout the aging process, making foods seem tasteless or less appetizing. Instead of reaching for the salt shaker, try seasonings like vinegar, herbs and spices or even lemon juice.
- Try something new. Seniors should be encouraged to try new foods regularly to help get them out of that food rut. Whether it’s a simple taste test of a fruit they’ve never tried or heading to a restaurant to try a new type of cuisine, it never hurts to mix things up a bit.
Join Concordia for a Special Power Foods Presentation
On January 26th, join Concordia for a special presentation all about the benefits of power foods! Learn more about what makes these foods so beneficial to seniors and taste test them in some amazing recipes for yourself.