LIVE YOUR HEALTH
In 2010, after completing a rigorous application and site review process by Meals On Wheels America, we were awarded “Exemplary Status” Magnet Accreditation for our outstanding senior nutrition program.
Top 6 Superfoods Seniors Should Be Eating
As we age, we become more susceptible to developing a wide array of health concerns, such as high blood pressure, arthritis and heart disease. With so much changing, it can often feel like your health is out of your control as you get older. However, this doesn’t have to always be the case.
In fact, the food you consume on a daily basis can play a major role in your long-term health. And if you want to live a long, healthy life, it’s wise to be smart about which foods you’re incorporating into your diet. Here are six superfoods seniors should be eating to look and feel better:
- Omega-3 fatty acids. No matter how old you are, omega-3 fatty acids are essential to a healthy diet. However, it’s especially important for seniors to incorporate more omega-3s into their daily meals. Omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to reduce inflammation, which is what leads to a variety of diseases. Inflammation has been linked to arthritis, heart disease and even cancer. Not only that, but it can be helpful in lowering cholesterol levels and can help with high blood pressure for those with hypertension.
Omega-3 fatty acids have a wide array of benefits, and you can incorporate more omega-3s into your diet pretty easily. Fish such as salmon, sardines and herring all have plenty of good-for-you fatty acids. However, since fish contain various levels of mercury, you should monitor your fish consumption.
For other sources of omega-3s, you can eat walnuts, avocados, flax seeds, cauliflower, spinach, kale and eggs. This variety of sources ensures that you get a good serving of omega-3 on a regular basis. It’s really as easy as adding flax seeds or avocado to a morning smoothie!
- Cruciferous and root veggies. We’ve learned since youth how important it is to eat our vegetables, and that still rings true later in life. Veggies provide plenty of vitamins and minerals that our bodies need to function properly. However, many veggies are very rich in polyphenols, which are beneficial to consume. Polyphenols may help lower cholesterol (thus reducing the risk of heart disease), may help lower blood pressure, and they can help support bone health.
Because cholesterol levels, high blood pressure and bone health are often concerns among seniors, it’s important to make sure seniors are getting plenty of veggies in their diets. Cruciferous and root vegetables such as sweet potatoes, beet root, cabbage, cauliflower and broccoli are all great options. You can also eat arugula, Brussels sprouts, collard greens and kale. The best thing about these veggies is that they’re easy to incorporate into any healthy meal.
As we age, we also develop an increased risk for diseases such as Alzheimer’s. Polyphenols in vegetables may also help prevent brain degeneration by reducing oxidative stress and inflammation.
- Oatmeal. Many seniors choose to enjoy a nice, warm bowl of oatmeal for breakfast, and it’s for good reason. Oatmeal has a high soluble fiber content, which provides many benefits for our bodies. It’s also packed with tons of other vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.
Oatmeal contains beta-glucan, a type of soluble fiber. Beta-glucan has been shown to reduce LDL and total cholesterol levels while also reducing blood sugar levels. Plus, oats are very filling, which can help you lose weight since you’ll feel fuller longer. That’s an added benefit for anyone struggling with weight-related issues.
- Blueberries. Much like oatmeal, blueberries are also high in soluble fiber. Consuming soluble fiber has been linked to lower cholesterol levels, can help control blood glucose levels, and can even provide digestive relief. It’s also been shown that those with higher intakes of dietary fiber are at a lower risk of developing heart disease, stroke, and other diseases.
To reap these benefits, all you have to do is add a serving of blueberries into your day. If you’re not a fan of blueberries, apples are another fruit that are high in soluble fiber.
- Butternut squash. Butternut squash is loaded with beta-carotene which is also found in carrots, sweet potatoes, spinach, kale, collard greens and even pumpkins. However, what you might not know is the benefits beta-carotene provide (especially for seniors).
As we age, our eyesight often begins to deteriorate. Many seniors wind up needing prescription glasses, while others are forced to have operations on their eyes. Fortunately, beta-carotene has been linked to boosting eye health. Beta-carotene gets converted in our bodies into vitamin A, which is important for good vision, as well as overall eye health. For future meal ideas, butternut squash is a great source of the beta-carotene your body needs.
- Dark chocolate. If you’re someone who frequently has chocolate cravings, we have some good news for you: It’s fine to enjoy a piece of dark chocolate after dinner time. Studies have shown consuming small amounts of dark chocolate on a regular basis can assist in lowering blood pressure, while also boosting brain health. It may even help prevent heart disease, according to another study.
The key is to pick out the right kind of dark chocolate: Go for one that has at least 70 percent cacao. It’s going to have plenty of antioxidants, including polyphenols like flavonoids.
Dan Scalco is a columnist at Inc., Entrepreneur, and the Huffington Post. In his precariously free time, he writes about the many facets of the meal delivery industry at FoodBoxHQ.com. Connect with him on Twitter @DanScalco.