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Senior Health

Healthy Diet Options For Seniors

Reviewed by: MySeniorCare Staff
Last Updated: 4/13/2010 4:07:38 PM

As a caregiver for older people, it's important for you to select and prepare foods that support their optimal health. Empty calories from foods such as white bread or jelly will not protect your elderly patients from the diseases of old age such as heart disease, strokes and Type 2 diabetes.

Be sure to provide seniors in your care with a healthy and appetizing balance of nutrient-rich food that will support their immune and digestive systems, maintain strong bones, and sustain vitality and energy.

An Ideal Diet for Seniors

The ideal diet for seniors contains plenty of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy products, and healthy proteins such as lean meats, beans, nuts and eggs, according to the National Institute on Aging. An ideal dinner might include grilled salmon, spinach sauteed in olive oil, and whole grain pasta or brown rice.

Be sure to keep fats (especially saturated and trans fats), salt and sugar to a minimum, although a small amount of these can make food taste more palatable, and will more likely ensure the meal will be eaten. Some seniors eat too few calories, so always be sure the food you prepare is tempting and tasty.

Bananas are an especially good fruit choice because they provide the satisfaction and creaminess of a sugary treat, but contain a healthy dose of potassium. Bananas are also easy to eat for older people who have dentures or weak teeth. Yogurt is another healthy anti-aging food that is easy on patients with chewing challenges.

Foods that support optimal brain function for seniors include shellfish, salmon, avocado, eggs, almonds, fruits and vegetables. Leafy greens, calcium fortified orange juice, cabbage, fortified milk and yogurt all contribute to strong bones. Just half a cup of collard greens contains about 20 percent of the recommended daily value of calcium.

Don't forget fiber when you're creating your menu. Dietary fiber is important for a host of reasons, including digestion. According to the Mayo Clinic, it is important to provide whole grain bread rather than white bread, brown rice rather than white rice, to prevent constipation, lower blood cholesterol levels, and control and maintain proper weight. High fiber foods including fruits and vegetables also create a feeling of fullness that eliminates the desire to snack on empty calorie foods such as candy bars, cookies or cupcakes.

Since seniors often consume fewer calories than younger people, it is especially important to make every calorie count.

The way to a senior's healthy heart is literally through their stomach!

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