No matter what stage of life you are in—teen, young adult, senior—proper diet must be at the forefront of your life priorities.
It is the one lifestyle that can affect the overall quality of your life. Moreover, it will dictate what kind of life you will lead in the future—long and healthy or disease-ridden.
Many seniors who lack proper nutrition during their younger years suffer many debilitating illnesses such as heart disease and cancer. It has also become extra challenging to manage senior nutrition due to several age-related hindrances like:
- Low appetite
- Slow metabolism
- Physical difficulty
- Poor dental health
- Medication side effects
- Memory loss
You probably already know what foods to include on your plate—lots of fruits and vegetables. However, these are not the only healthy ones that you can incorporate in your daily meals. You can eat more while weighing less and gaining the right nutrients.
Here are delectable yet nutritious foods that are good for older adults.
1. Fruits Rich in Antioxidant
All fruits are nutritious, but not all of them are healthy for YOU. Certain kinds of fruits might exacerbate your underlying medical condition, such as mangoes and cherries for diabetic patients.
What you need to get a lot of is fruit variants rich in antioxidants. Antioxidants are food compounds that enrich the body by:
- Removing cancer-causing agents
- Eliminating free radicals
- Preventing cell damage
- Prevents and slows down neurodegenerative diseases (e.g., Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease)
- Helps in treating brain injury and stroke
Fruits high in antioxidants that you need to get into your system are blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, red apples, black plums, peaches, apricot, and grapes.
2. Leafy Greens
Proper senior nutrition would be incomplete without your trusty green leafy veggies on your plate. The healthiest among the bunch include kale, spinach, broccoli, cabbage, beets, herbs, swiss chard, lettuce, and bok choy.
All of these veggies pack high nutritional content that fills the daily recommended needs of seniors. This includes:
- Vitamin A, C, E, and K
- Lutein and beta-carotene
- Antioxidants and flavonoids
- Potassium and calcium
- Folic acid and riboflavin
To ensure that they retain their nutritional contents, you can steam, grill, or sauté your veggies in a non-stick pan with a small amount of olive oil. Garnish your dish with herbs like rosemary and basil.
3. Cold-Water Seafood
When shopping in wet markets for fish products, you should have a list of three criteria to ensure that the fishes are fresh and healthy. According to studies, it should include:
- High in omega-3 fatty acids
- Low in contaminants (e.g., mercury and other chemicals)
- Produced in a friendly environment
Some examples of cold-water fishes rich in healthy fatty acids include salmon, mackerel, tuna, halibut, and sardines.
Omega-3 fatty acids help seniors have a healthy heart and retain their normal cognitive functions. It also strengthens their physical body, making no room for physical limitations due to old age.
4. Lean Meat
Fatless and skinless pieces of chicken, turkey, and fish meat proves to be an essential part of a senior’s diet.
As your primary source of protein, it helps your body repair and build tissues. Lean meats are also rich in protein but low in calorie content, helping you gain muscle mass and not fats.
Just make sure to cook it right by baking or grilling it instead of deep-frying your chicken meat. It would also be best not to add breading or other preservatives to it.
Carbs often have a terrible repertoire when it comes to diet. It is usually viewed as “unhealthy” because of its association with sugary foods that can cause obesity and diabetes.
But contrary to popular belief, carbohydrates do have their own set of benefits to the body, such as:
- Increasing energy levels
- Satisfies the appetite
- Helps with digestion due to fiber content
- Source of low-fat protein
Basically, natural and “whole” carbohydrates are the good and healthy ones, while refined carbs are considered unhealthy.
Some of the good carbs you can mix into your meal includes nuts, veggies, whole fruits, legumes, seeds, whole grains (brown rice), and tubers (sweet potatoes).
Bad carbs would be your usual unhealthy snacks like French fries, burgers, candies, ice cream, and sugary drinks.
6. Calcium-Rich Foods
Another essential part of senior nutrition are foods rich in calcium. As we all know, dietary calcium helps strengthen your bones and reduce your risk of falling prey to osteoporosis and fractures.
Some of the best and healthiest sources of calcium include:
- Fat-free or low-fat dairy products like yogurt, milk, and cheese
- Green leafy vegetables
- Fish with soft bones like sardines
- Calcium-fortified products like cereals, soy drinks, and milk substitutes
Improve your body’s ability to absorb calcium by also increasing your consumption of foods high in Vitamin D. This includes fatty fish, beef liver, egg yolks, and calcium-fortified products.
Vitamin D helps the body absorb dietary calcium, making them more efficient in bone maintenance and formation.
It would be best to take your calcium from natural sources. Studies suggest that some supplements can affect your kidney in the long-run.
It is also not advisable for people who already have kidney problems, circulation problems, parathyroid disorder, and cancer.
7. Comfort Foods
Following healthy and balanced nutrition does not mean that you will cut your favorite comfort foods all throughout.
The keyword here is “balance.” You can enjoy your favorite food so long as you only indulge yourself once in a while. It is also essential to prioritize your healthy meals and balance it with some physical activity and healthy living on the side.
Here are some tips on how to properly discipline yourself when it comes to comfort foods.
- You can consume foods high in calories, fat, or sugar as long as you do it once a week, then cut it back to once a month.
- Eat smaller portions during your cheat day.
- Try creating a healthier version of your favorite unhealthy meal. For instance, you can make an all-veggie patty for your quarter pounder and add some fresh tomatoes and lettuce.
- Cook your comfort food by using healthy ingredients.