Nutrient-Rich Foods Important for Seniors
Did you know the most nutrient-rich foods don’t need any fancy marketing, or even much packaging? These are foods that are high in vitamins, minerals, lean protein and complex carbohydrates, and are relatively low in calories.
It’s easier than you might think to find nutrient-rich foods and incorporate them into your daily diet. Nutrient-rich foods come in all shapes and varieties. They include fruits and vegetables, lean meat, seafood, eggs, beans, low-fat and fat-free milk and dairy products, nuts, and whole grains. Calorie intake will vary based on your age, gender and activity level , but it’s still important for the calories you choose to eat to pack a big nutritional punch. So, make every meal count for your health with nutrient-rich choices, especially since you can gain the following benefits:
Increase Your Energy
Eating a balanced, nutrient-rich diet means you’ll have more energy throughout the day, and that is so important when you’re trying to exercise, socialize, and just generally feel your best. Our bodies process nutrient-dense foods differently than empty foods (like cookies and candy), which is paramount in maintaining your energy throughout the day. For instance, you may enjoy a soda in the moment, but you may not feel so great a few hours later. This energetic crash often comes after a sudden drop in your blood glucose levels, which spike when you eat foods that are high in sugar.
Why is that? Simple sugars do not sustain us. They leave us feeling empty and tired. Whether you have a busy day ahead of you or not, it’s best to fill most of your meals with nutrient-rich choices so you have enough energy to enjoy it!
Protect Your Heart Health
Our heart is our body’s most important muscle, and nutrient-rich foods are essential for heart health . Limiting foods high in saturated fats and trans fats ensures that our bodies can properly pump blood. Whether you have a heart condition, or are trying to prevent one, it’s always a good idea to make a food choice that is high in nutrients and low in saturated fats, such as ordering a salad over French fries.
Manage Your Blood Sugar
Keeping your blood sugar in its target range is vital for your health, whether you have diabetes or not. For people with diabetes in particular, managing your blood sugar levels can prevent serious conditions such as vision loss, kidney disease and heart disease.
If you have a sweet tooth, you can still satisfy it with plenty of nutrient-rich options including fruit. Carbohydrates make your blood sugar levels go higher than nutrient-rich choices including proteins and fats.
Maintain Your Weight
When it comes to maintaining a healthy weight, eating a healthy, nutrient-rich diet is the optimal choice. A well-balanced diet, in conjunction with exercise, is one of the greatest tools in your arsenal, whether trying to lose, gain or maintain your weight.
If you’re finding yourself snacking often, and unfulfilled by your meals, that could be a sign that you need more nutrient-rich foods in your diet. When we’re eating empty calories, it’s easy to lose track and eat more than intended. For instance, donuts have more than 200 calories , while apples have only 80 calories. You could eat two and a half apples for each donut, plus you’d have the added benefit of introducing both fiber and protein into your body, instead of just complex carbohydrates and sugar. While both provide relief to those with a sweet tooth, the better choice is clear: You’ll never crash hard from an apple.
No matter your health goals, nutrient-rich foods are always the best choice. As older adults, it’s important to protect your health. That starts with and centers on what you’re eating. By eating foods that are more nutrient-dense, you are taking an active step in living your best life.
10 Frequently Asked Questions for Registered Dietitians
Nutrition Tips for Seniors
The saying goes, “You are what you eat.” Because nutrition plays such a big role in overall health, it’s important to make sure your senior loved one’s diet is balanced and healthy, and takes into account their lifestyle and any medical conditions. We’ve put together a few tips to help keep meals delicious, not daunting.