Our Top 10 Superfoods every senior should eat

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Healthy eating begins with you! Giving your body the right nutrients and maintaining a healthy weight can help you stay active and independent. You’ll also spend less time and money at the doctor. This is especially true if you have a chronic condition, such as diabetes or heart disease.

The definition of healthy eating does change a little as you age. For example, as you grow older, your metabolism slows down, so you need fewer calories than before. Your body also needs more of certain nutrients. That means it’s more important than ever to choose foods that give you the best nutritional value.

Making sure seniors get the right nutrition is essential for well-being. These 10 foods pack a wallop when it comes to critical nutrients—include them often.

Salmon

Fish and shellfish are nutrient dense and salmon is no exception. It is an excellent source of high-qualityprotein, vitamins and minerals (including potassium, selenium and vitamin B12) but it is their content of omega-3 fatty acids that receives the most attention.

One of the main reasons fish consumption is increasing in the UK is the desire to eat more healthily. Of all the different types of fish, salmon has received the most praise for being a nutritional marvel. Salmon are described as anadromous; born in fresh water before spending a large portion of their lives navigating the open sea only to swim back to their birthplace in order to spawn. This extraordinary homing mechanism is said to be attributed to their olfactory memory (memory of smell). A reason why these intelligent, intuitive fish are considered a ‘brain food’.

Avocado 

Also known as an alligator pear or butter fruit, the versatile avocado is the only fruit that provides a substantial amount of healthy monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFA). Avocados are a naturally nutrient-dense food and contain nearly 20 vitamins and minerals.

The guidance around the types of fat we should be consuming for a healthy diet is ever changing. Currently, it is recommended that we choose unsaturated fats such as monounsaturated fat (like that found in avocados) as they are supposedly better for heart health than saturated fat.

Research suggests that monounsaturated fat helps to protect against heart disease and lowers blood pressure. The oils provided by an avocado include oleic acid and linoleic acid and are therefore recommended as part of a balanced diet to prevent high cholesterol.

Spinach

Low in fat and even lower in cholesterol, spinach is high in niacin and zinc, as well as protein, fiber, vitamins A, C, E and K, thiamin, vitamin B6, folate, calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, copper, and manganese.

The dark green colour of spinach leaves indicates they contain high levels of chlorophyll and health promoting carotenoids (beta carotene, lutein and zeaxanthin). These phyto chemicals have anti-inflammatory and anti-cancerous properties and are especially important for healthy eye-sight, helping to prevent macular degeneration and cataracts.

Walnuts

Walnuts are among the oldest tree foods grown by man, with their importance being highlighted back in 7000 B.C. Eating walnuts everyday can help ward off dementia, say scientists. In the study, Dr. Abha Chauhan and his team from the New York State Institute found that mice deprived of walnuts suffered a dramatic loss in learning, memory and physical and emotional control. According to the results, vitamin E and flavanoids in walnuts helped destroy harmful free radical chemicals that cause dementia.  You may read more to find out how walnuts help prevent Alzheimer’s. Also read how walnuts help you keep your brain healthy.

Olive Oil

The health benefits of olive oil are unrivaled, and research reveals more benefits nearly every day. In fact, we are only just beginning to understand the countless ways olive oil can improve our health, and our lives. Olive oil is the cornerstone of the Mediterranean diet — an essential nutritional mainstay for the world’s longest-living cultures. The phytonutrient in olive oil, oleocanthal, mimics the effect of ibuprofen in reducing inflammation, which can decrease the risk of breast cancer and its recurrence. Squalene and lignans are among the other olive oil components being studied for their possible effects on cancer.

Blueberries

Warding off heart disease. The blueberry’s fiber, potassium, folate, vitamin C, vitamin B6 and phytonutrient content, coupled with its lack of cholesterol, all support heart health. The fiber in blueberries helps lower the total amount of cholesterol in the blood and decrease the risk of heart disease.

Research has shown that anthocyanidins are highly active phytonutrients transported in the bloodstream where they act on blood vessels and collagen to reinforce and preserve it. They support blood vessel integrity around the body, not only the collagen in skin. This action has linked anthocyanidins to a reduction in cardiovascular disease (by protecting the vessels around the heart).

Ginger 

Native to southeastern Asia, India and China, ginger has been an integral component of the diet and valued for its aromatic, culinary and medicinal properties for thousands of years – Ginger has a long history of use for relieving digestive problems such as nausea, loss of appetite, motion sickness and pain. The root or underground stem (rhizome) of the ginger plant can be consumed fresh, powdered, dried as a spice, in oil form or as juice

Ginger also contains very potent anti-inflammatory compounds called gingerols. These substances are believed to explain why so many people with osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis experience reductions in their pain levels and improvements in their mobility when they consume ginger regularly. Gingerols inhibit the formation of inflammatory cytokines; chemical messengers of the immune system.

Garlic 

Garlic contains vitamins C and B6, manganese, selenium and other antioxidants (notably allicin). More recent evidence-based research suggests garlic may be effective against high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, cholesterol, colds and some cancers.

Modern research has focused on garlic’s potential to reduce the risk of heart disease, cholesterol levels and cancer. Several studies suggest that garlic makes platelets (the cells involved in blood clotting) less likely to clump together and stick to artery walls, therefore acting as an anticoagulant and so reducing the risk of heart attacks. The sulphurous compounds have also been studied for their ability to inhibit cancerous cells and block tumours by slowing DNA replication. The ability of these compounds to depress tumour cell proliferation is still being studied extensively.

Garlic may also lower blood pressure slightly, mainly through its ability to widen blood vessels.

Turmeric

Turmeric (curcuma longa) is extensively cultivated in the tropics and the root is widely used in cooking. Turmeric has a deep, golden-orange colour and looks similar to ginger.

Turmeric’s anti-inflammatory properties have been compared to those of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS). Clinical trials have found it to be more effective than a placebo for relieving pain and swelling in people with osteo and rheumatoid arthritis. However, more well-designed clinical studies are needed to determine and document the efficacy of curcumin and combination products in patients taking NSAIDS to treat osteoarthritis.

Carrots 

The health benefits of carrots include reduced cholesterol, prevention from heart attacks, warding off of certain cancers, improving vision and reducing the signs of premature aging. Furthermore, carrots have the ability to increase the health of your skin, boost the immune system, improve digestion, increase cardiovascular health, detoxify the body, and boost oral health in a variety of ways.  They also provide a well-rounded influx of vitamins and minerals.

Know other super foods –  We would love to hear about them and all their benefits.

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