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Dietary Changes in Seniors: A Colorful Plate is Key

Eating well and understanding nutrition is important at any age. As we grow older, our physical health and outlook on life can be affected by what we eat.

Published: Aug 11, 2015

Eating well and understanding nutrition is important at any age. As we grow older, our physical health and outlook on life can be affected by what we eat. Over the age of 50, our needs change and proper planning for nutrition can make the difference in our daily energy level and help us prevent long-term disease. Studies show that a balanced diet reduces the risk of heart disease, stroke, Type 2 diabetes, bone loss, and some kinds of cancer while improving cognitive and emotional health. For those seniors who are already managing a chronic disease, eating well and keeping active can relieve symptoms and improve quality of life. 

Many times we focus on counting calories as the most important aspect of eating, but as we age, understanding nutrients becomes essential. What are we getting out of our foods? As we age, we need to examine the foods we eat for the quality nutrition they bring us. This way, we get the most out of every bite. For example, a medium banana, 1 cup of flaked cereal, 1.5 cups of cooked spinach, 1 tablespoon of peanut butter, or 1 cup of 1% milk all have nearly the same number of calories. However, these foods offer very different nutrients. Some may have more of the essential nutrients your body needs, so making the right choice matters.

Keep It Colorful

One key to finding high-nutrient foods is easy: color. A colorful plate with a variety of vegetables and fruits each day will boost your intake of important nutrients. Look for a mix of fruits and vegetables and fill your plate with these valuable foods:

Red

Tomatoes, radishes, cabbage, beets, grapes, strawberries, watermelon, cherries, raspberries, cranberries, apples

  • Protect our hearts
  • Reduce the risk of atherosclerosis, hypertension, and high cholesterol.
  • Lower the risk of cancer, including prostate cancer
  • Protect against heart diseases
  • Improve brain function

Blue and Purple

Eggplant, purple cabbage, purple potatoes, blackberries, blueberries, purple grapes, plums, raisins, figs

  • Help prevent heart disease, stroke, and cancer
  • Improve memory and promote healthy aging
  • Protect urinary tract health and digestion

Orange and Yellow

Carrots, pumpkin, corn, sweet potato, peppers, apricots, oranges, grapefruit, peaches, mangoes, pears, pineapple

  • Protect nervous system
  • Promote eye health
  • Prevent heart diseases
  • Boost skin health and immunity
  • Help build strong bones

Green

broccoli, spinach, lettuce, Brussels sprouts, green beans, cucumbers, zucchini, peas, green apples, grapes, avocado

  • Protect eye health and lower the risk of macular degeneration for seniors
  • Protect from cancer and high levels of bad cholesterol
  • Aid digestion
  • Improve immunity

White

Potatoes, onions, mushrooms, cauliflower, turnips, bananas, white nectarines, white peaches, pears

  • Lower the level of bad cholesterol and high blood pressure
  • Minimize the risk of colon, prostate, and breast cancer

Get Started Today

No matter what your age or health is today, it’s not too late to get started on a nutrient-rich diet and see improvements. Each small change in eating healthy and staying active creates the opportunity for positive health benefits and a better quality of life for seniors.

Making small changes in the way you prepare your food and the way you shop can often help overcome challenges to eating well. Investigate the produce department at your local grocery store and stock up on meals and snacks that are colorful and good for you. This variety of colorful foods will pack your plate with the nutrients your body needs and provide energy for a healthy, active lifestyle. Healthy eating isn’t a diet or a fad. It’s part of a lifestyle that you can adopt now and stick with (and enjoy) for years to come. At Comfort Keepers®, we know that senior nutrition is essential for a high-quality life. We work with our clients each day to plan, shop, and prepare nourishing meals and snacks. If your loved one needs a helping hand for meal planning at home, contact our professional in-home caregivers who specialize in keeping seniors healthy and engaged with life. 

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