The Impact of Good Nutrition on the Heart and Mind
Gathering for a meal with loved ones or preparing a special snack for yourself are great ways to bring a little joy into your day. No matter our age, eating food that nourishes is important for our bodies, minds, and quality of life. But as our bodies change with age, so does what we need to stay healthy. For example, seniors may need fewer calories, but they still need hearty nutrition. When older adults choose the food that nourishes them, they have the energy to do the things they love every day.
Best Foods for Brain Health
It is not unusual for seniors to experience mild memory loss, so eating for brain nourishment is one of the ways to help keep the mind sharper for longer and able to seize each day.
Let's take a look at foods that can improve brain health and memory for older adults.
Extra-Virgin Olive Oil - We know it's tasty, and now we know extra virgin olive oil improves memory. Add it to salads and vegetable sautés.
Fish – Naturally fatty fish such as mackerel, salmon, and lake trout provide plenty of omega-3 fatty acids, which have been shown to be vital for brain health. Eat fish at least once a week with healthy leafy greens as a side dish.
Dark Leafy Greens – Spinach, arugula, Swiss chard, escarole, romaine lettuce, and other dark leafy greens are packed with vitamin B9, also known as folate. Folate is an essential nutrient that affects brain function in seniors. Between using these leafy greens for salads, sautés, and dippers for hummus or other healthy dips, the possibilities are endless.
Fruits and Vegetables – Dark-colored fruits and vegetables are filled with flavonoids that can help slow cognitive decline. Eat a bowl of berries as a sweet treat and add some colorful veggies to a salad.
Herbs and Spices – In addition to adding fun flavor to meals, some herbs and spices can also improve brain health, especially sage, turmeric, and rosemary. Try tossing some of these spices into a stir fry or use in sauteed veggies.
Seeds and Nuts – Walnuts, flaxseed, and other nuts and seeds are good sources of omega-3 fatty acids that help protect brain health. Eat as snacks or use as crunchy salad toppings.
By adding these foods to their diets, older adults will enjoy more energy and help keep their minds and memories sharper.
Quick Tips to Make Nutrition Easy & Fun
Following these tips help create a nutritious diet that will nourish the body and mind.
Veggie Variety: Load up on vegetables, especially leafy greens. Try to have at least six servings a week.
Pick Low-Fat Protein: Eat fish at least once a week, and be sure to get enough low-fat protein such as eggs, chicken, beans, low-fat dairy products, or lean meats. Nuts and seeds are also good sources of protein.
Focus on Healthy Fats: Stick to healthy monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats such as extra virgin olive oil, canola oil, and peanut oil, and foods such as nuts, avocados, and olives. Avoid or keep to a minimum processed foods containing trans fats as well as saturated fats found in whole-fat dairy products, red meat, lard, and palm oil.
Spice It Up: Keep meals interesting with herbs and spices, different vegetables, and proteins.
Keep It Colorful: Your plate should be colorful to help ensure you’re consuming foods that are healthy for your brain.
Good for the Brain, Good for the Heart
Food is about more than just nutrition. The first bite of a blueberry can bring back memories of summer picnics, a bite of pumpkin pie can take you back to the first Thanksgiving of married life. These are important memories that connect the past to the present and uplift the spirit. Be sure to take time to make the special dishes that bring back joyful memories and allow traditions to be passed on. We invite you to share the love of good food and good company with your senior loved ones while helping ensure they have a diet that will both nourish their minds and create memories that warm their heart.