Senior care column: Better health with nutrient-dense, high-fiber super foods
Eating healthy, at any age, has many benefits to quality of life. Certainly, this is not new information. However, to what extent can healthy eating impact your life as you age?
Proper diet can promote better digestion, elevated energy, improved focus, resistance to illness and even assist with the healing process. As we grow older, and often become less physically active, our metabolism slows down and our bodies need fewer calories and different nutrients to function. This is where an awareness of super foods may be beneficial.
While there is no set standard or formalized list of super foods, foods such as fish that are high in omega-3s, whole grains, fruits, vegetables, legumes and nuts and seeds are often included on what may be considered the super food list. These foods are thought to be nutritionally dense, high in fiber and/or contain antioxidants and phytochemicals.
So, let’s review some of the super foods that promote healthy aging and life in general.
• Fish: Salmon is often way at the top of everyone’s list. These cold-water fish are high in omega-3 essential fatty oils, which can control the amount of triglycerides in your blood stream, reducing Low-density lipoprotein (bad cholesterol) and improving high-density lipoprotein (good cholesterol). Other omega-3 rich fish are tuna, sardines and mackerel.
• Fruits and berries: Foods that have extra large doses of vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals and antioxidants include blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, goji berries and blackberries.
Fruits and berries are best consumed whole, fresh and unprocessed. Experts estimate that you should be eating five to nine portions of fruits and vegetables a day.
• Dark greens: Most dark green vegetables are packed with fiber, vitamins, minerals and plant-based substances that may help protect against heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, prostate issues and perhaps even cancer.
Some of the most nutritionally dense and high-fiber foods include kale, watercress, collards, Swiss chard, spinach, arugula, brussels sprouts and broccoli. These vegetables are loaded with vitamins A, C and K, as well as fiber, calcium and other nutrients and minerals.
• Other foods high in minerals and vitamins include sweet potatoes, squash, avocados, chili and bell peppers, kiwi, papaya and mangoes, to name a few. There also are many other foods, such as yogurt, carrots, almonds, walnuts and even butter, that can improve the way your body processes food into nutrients.
For people who find themselves rushed in the morning, have little time for lunch or may have difficulty with their teeth, making smoothies and soups is a quick and easy way to incorporate super foods into your daily diet.
The point is, as you age, your body changes. As you change, so must your diet. The old days of eating chips before a meal, having a big steak with mashed potatoes dripping with sour cream or eating a huge bowl of pasta a couple of nights a week are gone.
Whatever your age, eating well should be all about fresh, colorful food, creativity in the kitchen and eating healthy. Portions must be decreased, food groups must be represented and our attitude about food must become healthier.
If you are not completely frustrated and have the mental bandwidth to learn about another way of eating, then take a look at the Mayo Clinic Diet. If nothing else, then it is quite educational.
Judson Haims is the owner of Visiting Angels Home Care in Eagle County. Contact him at 970-328-5526 or visit http://www.visitingangels.com/comtns.