As you age, your body changes and so do your nutritional needs. The benefits of smart food choices include better health, more energy, weight control, and good digestion. Let’s look at some important nutritional tips to keep in mind for older adults.
Lots Of Color
If your plate at mealtime is full of different colors, then you’re probably eating healthy. Diets rich in fruits and vegetables have color and provide special benefits to seniors. For example, fruits and vegetables with a brilliant yellow or orange color are generally high in vitamin A. Other brilliantly hued food, such as blueberries, raspberries, and spinach are rich in antioxidants. Some studies show that these foods help with memory and cognition and may even slow the aging process. For example, a Tufts University study showed a correlation between consumption of foods high in vitamin B6 and performance on cognitive tests. Having a colorful plate also means you’re getting variety in your diet.
“We do our best to keep our meals full of color,” says Mike Hinkle, chef at The Maples of Towson. “We include plenty of variety in our meals, always keeping in mind the concepts of nutritional value and great taste. The rave reviews from our residents tell us that we’re doing it right,” says Chef Hinkle.
Antioxidants provide a whole host of other potential benefits including a lower risk of heart disease and protection against some cancers.
As the human skeleton ages, it runs a higher risk of fractures. Plenty of calcium in the diet helps preserve bone strength. Vitamin D is also needed for optimal bone health, in order to aid in the absorption of calcium. Milk, yogurt, and cheese are great sources of calcium. In some cases, calcium and vitamin D supplements may be needed, especially for those with lactose intolerance.
For good digestion, fiber is essential. Whole grains such as oatmeal, whole wheat, bran cereal, and beans are excellent choices. Other good sources of fiber are brown rice, nuts, and baked potato with the skin. Crunchy green vegetables also provide plenty of fiber along with many important vitamins.
The benefits of fiber go beyond just improved digestion. People who eat a high fiber diet tend to have better weight control and lower cholesterol as well.
The older adult can sometime have problems with decreasing muscle mass. Protein, along with regular exercise, helps maintain muscle mass, tone, and strength. Leaner sources of protein are best such as chicken, turkey, and lean cuts of beef.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Some call these “good fat” since omega-3 fatty acids may promote healthy circulation to the heart, brain, and body. Other studies show that omega-3s may be helpful in reducing the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. Foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids are fishes such as salmon, tuna, and mackerel. These also happen to be super sources of protein.
You’ve eaten thousands of meals in your own dining room. At The Maples of Towson, we understand that when deciding to make a move to senior living, food is a concern. It’s important to get it right. Our residents know that we are always listening to their feedback and that we set the bar high when it comes to our dining standards. Contact us or call 410-296-8900 to set up a free tour.