A nutritious diet helps to improve health down the road. A balance of protein, vitamins, minerals and carbohydrates is important for everyone, especially senior citizens.
Seniors in particular should focus on foods that are high in vitamins and protein, but low in cholesterol, sugar and fats. Some foods are healthier than others, although some taste better or are more fun to eat. Many seniors have difficulty eating or digesting dry foods, so soft choices should be included in the diet as well.
Knowing where to find all of the things that someone should eat can be tricky. Here is a sample on which foods are nutritious and should be included in the diet when possible. If seniors are not cooking for themselves, home healthcare agencies or family members should make sure that they are receiving well-balanced meals. Emphasis should be on whole grains, vegetables, fruits, low-fat or fat-free milk products and whole grains. Poultry, lean meats, fish, beans, eggs and nuts should be included. These increase the intake of vitamins and minerals that prevent risk for stroke, heart disease, certain types of cancer, high blood pressure and diabetes.
According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), those eating a healthy diet are less likely to have chronic diseases, and foods from five of the six food groups should be eaten daily. The food groups are: Fruits; vegetables; breads and cereals; milk and cheeses; meat, fish, dry beans and poultry; fats, sweets and alcohol.
Fruits and vegetables do not have cholesterol and most are low-fat. Eat them for vitamins A, E and C. Many are also high in potassium and fiber. Good sources of potassium include several varieties of beans, such as kidney, lima and soy. Bananas, apricots, cantaloupe, peaches, tomato-based foods, sweet and white potatoes are also potassium rich. Find vitamin E in items like nuts, peanut butter, wheat germ, avocados, tomatoes and blue crab. Oils such as canola, corn, olive and peanut are also good sources of vitamin E. Okra, kale, soybeans and collards are high in calcium. Eat cantaloupe, Chinese cabbage, pumpkin, spinach and carrots for a high concentration in vitamin A.
Fiber helps the body regulate itself. Fiber can be found in whole grain breads and cereals; pinto, black, soy, Navy, white, lima and great Northern beans; crackers; sauerkraut, spaghetti and pasta; figs and apples. Milk and cheeses, sometimes referred to as the dairy group, are high in calcium, which especially helps seniors prevent osteoporosis and strengthen bones. Protein is considered the basic building block of the body. It helps replace cells and enzymes, which is important for seniors. Vary sources of protein with foods like meat, poultry, fish, seeds, eggs and nuts. Watch for higher levels of cholesterol in these items.
Home care specialists can also help seniors steer clear when possible of high-fat, high-sugar and high-cholesterol foods, such as sugar-based syrups, dressing, gravy, cake and chocolate. This keeps calorie and sugar intake down, for a healthier body.
Author is a freelance writer. For more information on home healthcare agencies, please visit http://www.interimhealthcare.com/.