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Healthy foods for older people to try this New Year

6th February 2019

As you get older it is vital that you continue to eat healthily as changes in your body can result in lower energy, meaning more calories are needed.

Your diet naturally depends on how active you are. Older people who cannot walk very well and need specialist baths for the disabled, for example, will not need as big a portion sizes as others who regularly go out walking and exercising.

While specific foods won’t help cure a disease or prevent dementia, a healthy diet full of nutritious foods does have lots of benefits.

As it’s the beginning of a New Year it’s good to get into a routine of eating healthy foods, but if you’re not sure which foods should be on your shopping list, then read on to find out the foods older adults should be eating.

The top healthy food to try this year

Vegetables

Leafy green vegetables such as spinach, kale and turnip greens are all healthy foods you should be eating in the year ahead as they have been linked to lower levels of cognitive decline as people age.

Anjali Shah, Board Certified Health Coach and Food Writer, The Picky Eater, recommends including vegetables in every meal you cook.

“I'd recommend that every meal has some vegetables on the plate - and ideally a range of veggies from root vegetables to cruciferous vegetables etc. That way you'll get the biggest variety of antioxidants and nutrients in your diet!

“So, for example, for breakfast, you could have eggs with sauteed peppers, spinach and onions on the side; for lunch, you can add a salad with kale and other veggies, and for dinner, you can add in squashes, carrots, etc into whatever meal you're making!”

Swap white rice and bread for brown

There are lots of health benefits when it comes to eating whole grains, which are the seeds of grass-like plants called cereals.

There are many kinds of whole grains such as oatmeal, brown rice, whole rye and lots more. These wholegrains boast health benefits such as fibre, vitamins, minerals, protein and antioxidants.

Choclette, a vegetarian whole food recipe developer who runs the Tin and Thyme food blog, recommends swapping white rice and bread for brown.

“Swap your white rice and bread for brown. Whole grains are infinitely better for your health in all sorts of ways and once you get used to them, you'll find they're more delicious.”

Fermented foods

Fermented foods are a hot health topic as these good bacteria—particularly those in our gut—can improve digestion, boost immunity and help you maintain a healthy weight.

Eating foods full of probiotics (good bacteria) will boost your gut health and Choclette from Tin and Thyme tells us about the fermented foods you can try.

“Fermented foods are fantastic for gut health. Get hooked on sourdough and incorporate a little yoghurt, or better still, kefir, into your breakfast each morning.”

Keep it colourful

Choclette says older adults should also consider eating the colourful vegetables you can get from your local supermarket.

“Dark green leafy vegetables such as cabbage, kale and spinach are packed with vitamins and minerals and are particularly valuable for inhibiting the effects of ageing. Bright red, orange and yellow pigments in squash, sweet potatoes, tomatoes and peppers are good for eye health and are said to reduce the risk of cancer. Purple should not be forgotten. Your mother may not have told you, but beetroot is a superfood. Not only that, colour delights the eye and enhances the flavour of the food.”

Fish

Fish like salmon, halibut, tuna, mackerel and sardines are high in omega-3 fatty acids, which makes them great for your heart and brain.

There is lots of evidence around the health benefits of fish and here we’ve listed some of these:

  • Lowers your risk of heart and strokes - Eating just one serving of fish per week has been linked to reduced risk of heart attacks and strokes, two of the world's biggest killers.
  • Fish reduces decline in brain function – Consuming fish has been linked to a reduced decline in brain function in old age as well as increasing grey matter in the brain, which controls memory and emotion.
  • Omega-3 fatty acids help depression – Studies have found that these fatty acids can help fight depression.

Dark skinned fruit

Berries and other dark-skinned fruit like blueberries, blackberries, plums, raspberries, cherries and red grapes have lots of antioxidants in them.

Antioxidants work on humans like rust-proof products work on a car – they can help keep you looking younger for longer.

These fruits also contain resveratrol and this helps to decrease blood pressure and allows better circulation. These ‘purple foods’ can reduce the likelihood of you developing stomach ulcers, they’re good for your liver and are good for your heart as they raise the good HDL cholesterol.

How important is it for older people to have a healthy diet?

It is very important for older people to eat a healthy and balanced diet as nutrition has a huge impact on the physical health and wellbeing of older adults.

How good nutrition impacts our health:

  • Brain function: your memory and cognitive ability
  • Organs: it has an impact on your eyes, kidneys and liver
  • Immune system: nutrition strengthens your immune system
  • Muscles and bones: it can prevent fractures and falls and improve your general mobility

Anjali Shah from the Picky Eater Blog agrees that it is extremely important for older adults to have a healthy diet.

She adds, “It's essential since whole foods and antioxidants are so important for healthy ageing!

“Balance is everything! Healthy eating doesn't mean that you can't ever have a treat. It just means that any indulgences should be consumed in moderation.”

For some top tips for shopping for older people, make sure to read this helpful guide

This news article is from Handicare UK. Articles that appear on this website are for information purposes only.