Eating well is crucial for seniors and can make the difference between good and poor health. Foods can maintain brainpower and decrease cholesterol in seniors, which lowers the risk of heart disease. Healthy food choices can also reduce the risk of stroke, high blood pressure, osteoporosis (bone loss), and cancer.
Cold water Fish and Salmon
Fish like halibut, tuna, mackerel, and salmon contain Omega-3 fatty acids, which is a “good fat” and necessary for brain health. A study performed by Dr. James T. Becker, psychiatrist at the University Of Pittsburgh School Of Medicine showed that seniors who consume a long-term weekly diet of broiled or baked fish have increased volumes of brain gray matter, which maintains cognition and memory.
Leafy Green Vegetables
Kale, spinach, mustard, turnip, and collard greens are known to increase brain power. Broccoli and green cabbage have the same effect. All are a source of folate, a B vitamin, linked to greater verbal fluency and a decrease in cognitive decline. Research led by Katherine L. Tucker, Ph.D., at Tufts University, showed that spatial skills increased over in three years with increased consumption of the right vegetables.
Antioxidant Rich Foods
Blueberries are the best source of antioxidants and are also known to increase brain function. Blueberries, like cranberries, protect against urinary tract infections. Other fruits and foods that combat free radical damage linked to cancer and heart disease are tomatoes, strawberries, and pomegranates. It is better to drink pomegranate juice then eat the fruit, because the skin contains the most antioxidants.
Calcium and Vitamin D for Bone Health
The need for calcium and Vitamin D is greater for seniors. Men over the age of 70 should consume 1,200 mg of calcium daily and women over 50 need the same amount. Supplements may be necessary per a physician’s order, but good dietary sources of calcium are yogurt, cheese, and low fat milk.
Vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium, and sunlight exposure causes the body to make vitamin D. A nutritional expert working in Sunshine Retirement homes for seniors says tuna, herring, liver, and eggs contain significant amounts of Vitamin D and should be eaten regularly to get the best benefit. Seniors over the age of 70 should take in 800 international units (IU) of vitamin D daily. Individuals ages 51 to 70 need 600 units.
Protein for Muscle Strength
Quality protein reduces muscle loss and can be obtained from skinless chicken, turkey, and fish, while protein from red meat contributes to high cholesterol. Poultry and fish are not the only sources, but plant-based protein from beans, peas, nuts, soy, and tofu positively impacts overall health.
Optimum dietary sources for seniors improve overall health and can increase longevity. Choosing the right foods can mean the difference between existing and living well.