Health Foods for the Elderly

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The Mental Health Association of South Mississippi put together this list of 52 health foods for senior citizens, to help improve mental acuity, bone health, and more.  We wanted to share it with all of you, as these really are a great base to start from when planning your loved one’s diet.

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Brain Food-These foods improve brain function, help you maintain memory and more.

  1. Shellfish: Shellfish contains B12, iron, magnesium and potassium; great for brain function.
  2. Salmon: Salmon is full of omega-3 fatty acids, which are good for the heart and brain.
  3. Eggs: Eggs contain choline, a type of B vitamin that is good for memory and stress management.
  4. Almonds: Almonds are often touted as a good brain food, giving you lots of energy.
  5. Fruits and vegetables: Fruits/vegetables have great health benefits; and the brain loves green, leafy veggies.

Bone Health-As we get older, our bones get weaker. Women in particular are at risk for osteoporosis.

  1. Fortified milk: Make sure the milk you’re drinking is fortified with Vitamin D.
  2. Cottage cheese: Cottage cheese is estimated to have between 318 and 156 mg of calcium.
  3. Cabbage: Cabbage raises estrogen levels, which is good for aging women.
  4. Calcium-fortified soy milk: If you’re lactose intolerant, try fortified soy milk.
  5. Collards: Just 1/2 a cup of collards contains about 20% of your recommended daily calcium.

Dental Health-Keep your teeth strong and cavity-free by eating these foods.

  1. Raisins: ScienceDaily reports that the “compounds found in raisins fight bacteria in the mouth that cause cavities and gum disease.”
  2. Water: Water is essential to good oral health.
  3. Raw broccoli: Raw broccoli is rich in magnesium, which teeth love.
  4. Cooked spinach: Cooked spinach is another good source of magnesium.

Avoiding Empty Calories-Seniors require less calorie intake than younger people, the calories they do consume should be full of proteins and vitamins, not sugars and alcohol.

  1. Peanut butter: In moderation, peanut butter is a good snack, it lower cholesterol and keeps you full longer.
  2. Dark chocolate: “Dark chocolate is healthy chocolate,” and in small servings, it’s a great alternative to heavy desserts.
  3. Milk: Milk has calcium and Vitamin D, and it’s also good for weight loss.
  4. Nuts: Unsalted nuts are a great snack. They keep you full longer and give you nutrients.
  5. Fiber-rich foods: Foods with a lot of fiber keep you fuller longer and are better for your digestion.

Antioxidants-Antioxidants are attributed with helping prevent cancer and helping your body get the most nutrients from your food when it breaks it down.

  1. Carrots: Carrots are rich in beta-caroten. Steam carrots if raw ones are too crunchy.
  2. Spinach: Raw and cooked spinach are both good sources of lutein.
  3. Sweet potatoes: Sweet potatoes are soft and have lots of beta-carotene and Vitamin A. Be careful of extra sugary yams, however.
  4. Tomatoes: Eat tomatoes to get the antioxidant lycopene.
  5. Blueberries: Blueberries are considered good brain food and are rich in antioxidants.

Low-Sugar-Sugary diets are full of empty calories and can lead to diabetes. Ask your doctor about starting a low-sugar diet to fight off excess weight gain, fatigue and more.

  1. Diet, caffeine-free soda: If you’re a soda-oholic, try a diet, caffeine-free one. Water is best.
  2. Whole grain breads: Multigrain, whole grain and mixed grain breads have a low glycemic index.
  3. Apples: Apples have a lower glycemic index than oranges, peaches and bananas.
  4. Low-fat yogurt: Instead of ice cream, have some low-fat yogurt for a snack.
  5. Vegetables: Snack on fresh veggies for sugar-free and low-sugar snacks.

Digestion and More-If you need help fighting constipation, colon problems or UTIs, check out this list with your doctor.

  1. Red beets: Red beets are said to help constipation symptoms.
  2. Cranberry juice: Drink 100% cranberry juice (not cranberry juice) to ward off UTIs.
  3. Raw foods: Raw and unprocessed foods are best for warding off colon cancer.
  4. Prunes: Prunes are an excellent source of dietary fiber, which helps digestion.
  5. Turnips: Include turnips in your meals to get even more dietary fiber.

Eyesight-For some seniors, eyesight weakens over the years. Your diet may help.

  1. Garlic: Garlic has a lot of sulfur, that produces a kind of antioxidant for the eye called glutathione.
  2. Lutein: Foods with lutein, like kale and spinach, are good for eyesight.
  3. Onions: Onions are also rich in glutathione.
  4. Low sugar foods: High sugar diets may make, AMD or age-related macular degeneration, worse.
  5. Fish Oil: Fish oil found in mackerel, salmon, flax seed and walnuts, help preserve eyesight.

Low-Salt-Sodium is a concern for many seniors, below is a list of low-sodium foods.

  1. Lima beans: A 3.5 oz. serving of canned lima benas only have 1 mg of sodium.
  2. Blackberries: Blackberries just have 1 mg of sodium per 3.5 oz. serving.
  3. Roast beef: Roast beef without extra sauces only has 60 mg of salt per 3.5 oz. serving.
  4. Okra and Tomatoes: This hot veggie dish is still low sodium.
  5. Apple sauce: If sodium is an issue for you, make or buy a low-sodium apple sauce to snack on.

Fruits and Veggies-Raw fruits and vegetables or lightly steamed vegetables are the best choice for getting the most vitamins and minerals per bite.

  1. Kiwi: Kiwi is one of the few fruits that contains riboflavin, which helps release energy from carbs.
  2. Peas: Peas are another food that can help your body get energy from carbohydrates more easily.
  3. Mushrooms: Mushrooms have more potassium than oranges and can lower blood pressure.
  4. Cauliflower: Eat cauliflower for a faster metabolism, which slows as you get older.
  5. Summer squash: Summer squash is easy to prepare. It’s also a good source of niacin.
  6. Strawberries: Strawberries have antioxidant benefits and Vitamin C.
  7. Peppers: Peppers are an excellent source of Vitamin A, beta-carotene and Vitamin C. They also contain potassium and iron.
  8. Leeks: Eat leeks to get a good serving of folate.
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