Senior couple enjoying a salad

Nutrition Tips for Seniors

Healthy eating is important at any age. But you may not be aware that your nutrition needs change as you get older. March is National Nutrition Month, so it’s a good time to take a look at your eating habits and see how they stack up to your nutritional needs. Here are some nutrition tips for seniors to help you do just that.

Seniors and Nutrition

According to the National Council on Aging, the body’s metabolism slows as you get older, and you need more of certain nutrients. That’s why it’s important to choose nutrient-dense foods. Nutrient-dense foods are simply foods with high amounts of nutrients and fewer calories.

Eating a healthy diet helps your body function at its best and can improve your quality of life. However,  knowing you should eat better doesn’t always translate into actually eating better. A survey by the International Food Information Council found that:

  • Only 37% of adults age 65+ felt that nutrient-dense foods should always be a part of a healthy diet.
  • Only 45% of adults age 65+ said they always or sometimes seek out nutrient-dense foods or beverages for themselves.

So how can you start eating healthier? Here are a few tips to get you started.

Nutrition Tips for Seniors

Rather than just trying to “eat healthy,” choose nutrient-dense foods that help your body in specific ways.

Boost Your Immune System

  • Beta Carotene – Sweet potatoes, spinach, carrots, mango, broccoli, tomatoes
  • Vitamin C – Citrus fruits, bell peppers, broccoli, berries, melons, tomatoes
  • Vitamin D – Fatty fish, eggs, milk,100% juices fortified with vitamin D
  • Zinc – Beef, seafood, wheat germ, beans, nuts,tofu
  • Probiotics – Cultured dairy products such as yogurt, fermented foods such as kimchi
  • Protein – Milk, yogurt, eggs, beef, chicken, seafood, nuts, seeds, beans, lentils

Support Your Brain Health

  • Vitamin E – Plant-based oils (wheat germ, sunflower, safflower, soybean), sunflower seeds, almonds, peanuts, peanut butter, greens, pumpkin, asparagus, avocado
  • Vitamin K – Green leafy vegetables, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, fish, liver, meat, eggs
  • Omega-3 fatty acids – Walnuts, salmon and other seafood, nuts and seeds, plant-based oils, fortified foods

Help Your Heart

  • Healthy fats – Olive oil, peanut oil, canola oil, avocados, most nuts
  • Omega-3 fatty acids – Walnuts, salmon and other seafood, nuts and seeds, plant-based oils, fortified foods
  • Omega-6 fatty acids – Vegetable oils such as safflower, soybean, sunflower, walnut, corn oils
  • Complex carbohydrates – Whole grains, fruits, vegetables, egg whites, non-fat dairy, legumes, soy products

Protect Your Muscles & Joints

  • Protein – Beef, chicken, almonds, quinoa, eggs, oatmeal, spinach, milk, salmon, lentils, chickpeas
  • Anthocyanins (to help with inflammation) – Fresh cherries, tart cherry juice, blueberries, blackberries, red cabbage, cranberries
  • Vitamin C – Citrus fruits, bell peppers, broccoli berries, melons, tomatoes

Three Ways to Make Eating Healthy Easier

Making any kind of diet change can be hard. So here are three ways you can make puting these senior nutrition tips into practice a little easier:

  1. Eat with others. Making mealtime a social event can help promote healthy eating habits while also making eating a meaningful part of your day. Studies have shown that when seniors eat together, they tend to choose better foods and have better overall health. It also helps keep consistent times for meals and promotes a routine for eating.
  2. Plan meals in advance. The easiest way to stay healthy and keep up with your good nutrition habits is to plan your meals in advance. You can prepare your foods so they’re already made and portioned out for the week ahead. This is also a great way to make sure you’re getting your recommended amount of fruit, veggies and meats. Another option to plan for the week is to keep a log of meals you’re planning on eating, or even just setting aside portioned-out bags full of snacks to munch on throughout the day.
  3. Indulge every once in a while: Maintaining a healthy eating habit for seniors doesn’t mean you can’t treat yourself every once in a while. Let yourself indulge and have a sweet treat every so often, or get one of your favorite guilty pleasures while out celebrating a special occasion. Remember, maintaining a healthy lifestyle is all about moderation, and restricting yourself from your favorites could lead you to indulging too much when you allow yourself to have them.

A Healthy Lifestyle at Eagle Senior Living

At Eagle Senior Living communities, we make it easy to eat well by offering delicious, nutritious foods that support a healthy lifestyle. Our staff is ready to help provide for each and every resident’s dietary needs and ensure they’re enjoying the highest quality of life possible. Ask about our dining program along with our other senior living services and amenities, or contact us today to learn more about our senior living communities.