From healthy fats to fiber, aging adults need certain foods to maintain good health. As we age, our bodies have different needs. Certain nutrients become especially important for good health. Many older adults don’t eat enough foods that contain certain vitamins and minerals such as calcium, potassium, fiber, magnesium, and vitamins A, C, D, and E. At the same time, many older adults eat foods high in calories, bad fats, cholesterol, and added sugar. Foods packed with fiber, essential vitamins and minerals should be the foundation of a diet. The Dietary Supplements Guide from the National Institute on Aging is a great guideline to understanding your dietary needs based on your age.
When choosing your meals, keep in mind these 8 tips:
- Eat high-fiber foods every day, such as raw fruits and vegetables and whole grains. These foods help cut down on constipation; provide the vitamins, minerals, fiber, and nutrients that you need for healthy aging; help maintain your weight, and reduce your risk of heart problems.
- Stay hydrated, drink lots of water and non-caffeinated beverages.
- Choose healthy fats found in seeds, nuts, avocados, fatty fish, and vegetable oils rather than saturated fats and trans fats.
- Fiber and nutrient-rich foods found in whole grains will help your digestion and protect your heart.
- Calcium is a must. Seniors need calcium-rich foods like low-fat dairy products. A calcium supplement, paired with vitamin D can also help you get what you need.
- Protein. Protein. Power your body with lean proteins like chicken, fish, beans, eggs, and nuts.
- Lifestyle changes can prevent or delay the onset of high blood pressure and can lower elevated blood pressure. These changes include increasing potassium intake, reducing salt intake, eating an overall healthful diet, and getting enough physical activity.
- Look for foods that are fortified with vitamin B12. Because of the body’s decreased ability to absorb B12, getting more through diet and supplements will ensure that you meet your requirements.
Choosing healthy meals as you get older can be difficult. Making the necessary changes to your diet can start gradual, however, the more you commit to doing it, the easier it becomes. The National Institute on Aging offers tips on selecting foods that contribute to your overall health and diet and AARP’s has a searchable database of Healthy Recipes here to get you started.