Your choice of food is a requisite for staying healthy. This is especially important for older adults. As you age, your metabolism begins to slow down, bones start to weaken, muscle mass declines, and bowel function slows. To adapt to these changes, you need to maintain a healthy diet, and this is where super foods come in. So, what exactly are super foods, and why are they important for seniors?
Basically, super foods are nutritional powerhouses loaded with antioxidants, minerals, vitamins, polyphenols, and soluble fiber. These foods play a vital role not only in reducing the risk of diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, inflammatory diseases, and cancer, but also in boosting your bone, eye, and brain health.
With seniors being vulnerable to diseases due to a weakened immune system, these foods can keep illnesses away and ensure they live a healthy and productive life. Here we highlight the top 10 super foods that seniors should incorporate into their diets.
Our Top Ten Super Foods for Seniors
Blueberries provide a 'one-stop nutrition' for seniors. Thanks to their potency in several nutrients, including vitamins C and K, antioxidants, manganese, and anti-inflammatory flavonoids. They help fight diseases like cancer, diabetes, and heart disease, as well as lowering cholesterol and blood pressure.
Berries also improve the functionality of the brain. They enhance your motor skills (which explains why they are a key part of the MIND diet, which includes foods that focus on neurodegenerative delay). You can serve your berries with yogurt or dessert for an added dose of fiber.
2. Beans and Legumes
Like blueberries, beans are loaded with antioxidants and fiber, making them one of the more essential super foods. Their inflammatory properties lower cholesterol levels and improve blood vessels' functionality, which prevents heart-related conditions. In addition to antioxidants, beans and legumes contain vitamins, fiber, proteins, and calcium, which are crucial for your overall health.
- examples of beans you should add to your diet are black beans, red beans, lentils, chickpeas, kidney beans, and pinto beans. Experts recommend having beans and legumes as part of your diet at least two times a week.
3. Dark-Green Leafy Vegetables
As you age, your body requires higher doses of vitamins and fatty acids. This is why doctors recommend a high intake of green leafy vegetables. The properties in vegetables boost muscle function, reduce bone fragility, and help with blood clots. Their sufficiency in calcium and fiber also helps to improve your eyesight and lower cholesterol levels.
Dark-green leafy vegetables may include: kales, arugula, spinach, broccoli, and dandelion greens. Throwing some leafy greens into your salad can go a long way in strengthening your limbs as you age.
4. Dark Chocolate
To spice up your rather mundane diet, you can incorporate a reasonable amount of dark chocolate into your food. This sweet treat can keep your arteries from clogging, hence reducing the risk of stroke and heart attack. The fibers and antioxidants also help lower your blood pressure and increase blood flow to the brain. As such, it can be particularly helpful for seniors dealing with Alzheimer's. Be sure to go for dark chocolate which is 70 percent cacao. A regular intake of this super food will help keep your body optimally functional.
5. Nuts and Seeds
Nuts, in general, contain proteins and fiber that are essential for your health. For instance, walnuts have high amounts of Omega-3 fats, which protect you against heart disease, cancer, and arthritis. Almonds are rich in calcium which is good for your bones, while cashew nuts contain iron and magnesium, which help with Alzheimer's, Type 2 diabetes, and migraines.
Overall, taking the recommended amount of nuts and seeds can reduce inflammation, help with weight loss, and lower your cholesterol levels.
The active ingredient in tomatoes is lycopene, an antioxidant that works to reduce the risk of heart disease, digestive tract cancers, and prostate cancer. It also improves bone health, thus preventing diseases such as osteoporosis. Tomatoes are also a valuable source of vitamin C, K, and potassium.
Whether cooked or otherwise, consuming tomatoes regularly can keep at bay diseases that tend to be common among seniors.
Salmon is considered a superfood due to its high amount of Omega-3 acids, proteins, vitamin D, and low concentration of saturated fats. Omega-3 acids are responsible for lowering fat counts, which reduces the risk of heart conditions. Salmon can also help build brain membranes, saving seniors from the early onset of Alzheimer's.
You can choose to serve your salmon with whole grain (like brown rice) and green vegetables to keep your diet balanced.
8. Green Tea
Originally from China and Japan, green tea has long been used as an anti-aging product and has proven important in reducing the risk of certain cancers, including prostate, bladder, stomach, breast, and blood. Having 2-3 cups of green tea per day can improve your brain function and reduce inflammation in patients with arthritis.
Moreover, if a senior suffers from constipation, they can take a few cups of green tea to gain relief. Similarly, if you tend to overeat and want to cut your food consumption, this product comes in handy in suppressing your appetite.
9. Whole Grains
Whole grains are packed with fiber, a property that protects your body from certain diseases, such as heart conditions. It also improves your blood sugar levels while helping with weight loss. A good example of whole grains is quinoa, which contains high levels of magnesium, copper, and manganese.
The mineral magnesium lowers the blood pressure by relaxing the muscles and blood vessels, while copper and manganese are responsible for getting rid of disease-causing substances.
Besides quinoa, wheat germ, brown rice, and oatmeal are good examples of whole grains you should highly consider including in your diet.
This super food helps decrease the buildup of cholesterol plaque, making it crucial in combating heart disease, osteoporosis, diabetes, and high blood pressure. It also provides a guard against infections such as influenza. Seniors can drink pomegranate juice as recommended to acquire its nutrients.
With age, we require nutrient-packed foods to ensure we are in optimal health. Incorporating these ten super foods into our diets and recipes can help us go a long way, keeping disease at bay and supporting long and fruitful lives. Our kitchens within our Integrated Lifestyle communities develop our menus and culinary experience with this understanding in mind. Contact your local Integrated Lifestyles managed community to learn more about menu options, nutritional information and more.