For seniors, eating healthy couldn’t be more important.
- Metabolism slows as we age and activity decreases which means seniors need less calories and less food than younger adults.
- Aging bodies don't absorb nutrients as well as they did in their 20s, meaning seniors can easily become deficient in essential nutrients.
These two factors add up to some serious news for older adults. We need less, but more nutrient dense food as we get older.
Enter senior superfoods.
Superfoods are, well, super. Trends aside, these foods have high concentrations of vitamins and minerals the body needs to stay healthy. For seniors, superfoods can have remarkable benefits for easing and preventing chronic conditions like heart disease, arthritis, even dementia. And, they can help older adults maintain healthy weights, boost energy and so much more.
Making nutritional changes can be overwhelming if you’re used to routines around meals. The following are four senior superfoods that can benefit your health and are also easy to incorporate into most diets. But start slow, making a few changes here and there instead of completely overhauling your diet. Be sure to consult a physician if you are thinking about making major changes, or if you have questions about how each of these foods may affect your specific health conditions.
An apple a day may not always keep the doctor away, but there is some truth to the saying. Apples are extremely healthy for seniors. With skins on, apples are great sources of fiber and vitamin C. As we age, digestive issues become more prevalent and our tracts more inconsistent. Fiber helps regulate the digestive system, great news for apple lovers. Fiber is also thought to protect blood vessels and may even protect against some types of cancers. And vitamin C protects the immune system, especially when sick.
Apples are always readily available, inexpensive, taste delicious and can be consumed in a variety of ways. Enjoy them as snacks, over oatmeal for breakfast, on-the-go, or even sauteed over dinner. With apples, the possibilities are truly endless.
Dark greens like spinach, broccoli and, common to many superfood lists, kale, are fantastic nutrient dense foods not only for seniors, but for everyone. High in bone-building calcium, kale and spinach are great additions for seniors, especially women. The Centers for Disease Control found one in four senior women suffer from bone loss. All dark greens are great sources of immune-boosting vitamin C as well as vitamin A which is needed for healthy vision, immune functions and overall organ health. And broccoli contains fiber and blood-pressure regulating potassium, a nutrient many seniors see deficiencies.
Dark greens are extremely versatile when cooking and eating. Enjoy them raw in a salad, cooked with dinner, even blended into a green smoothie.
This pink, meaty fish is a pretty impressive senior superfood. Not only is it low in calories and high in protein, salmon is a great source of omega-3 fatty acids, which play critical roles for overall health. Your body can’t make omega-3 acids, so it’s important that you either consume them through food or supplements. The omega-3 acids in salmon work to reduce triglycerides (fats) in your blood, which lowers your risk for heart disease. Omega-3 acids can also reduce stiffness, joint pain and reduce depression. There’s also research that links low levels of omega-3 acids to memory loss and dementia. How about that for super!
Water’s not really a food, per say, but it's incredibly important for health and deserves a prominent place in our superfoods list. Proper hydration has a major effect on overall health. It boosts energy, brain function, overall organ function, even mood. Water helps regulate digestive functions and can prevent common ailments like kidney stones. And for most of us, we’re just not getting enough. For seniors, the problem can become even more serious. As we age, sensors in our body that control thirst become less sensitive so seniors may not always realize they’re becoming dehydrated.
Aim for 11-15 glasses a day. Yes, more than the old recommendation of eight. Some foods are also great sources of water. Vegetables and fruits like watermelon, cucumber, oranges and lettuce are all excellent sources.
Adding a few additional superfoods to your diet can mean big changes for overall senior health and wellness. At Immanuel, our nutrition and wellness programming starts with a desire for residents to thrive in mind, body and spirit. Learn more about Thrive by Immanuel programming and receive more healthy retirement tips by downloading our free wellness guide. Just click here: https://www.immanuel.com/youractiveretirement.