As we age, our nutritional needs change. Our metabolism slows down, especially if we don’t stay active. Our digestive system changes, too, because our bodies produce less of the fluids needed to digest food properly. Medication and emotional health can also play a role in how much or little we eat.
It becomes more important than ever to eat the right foods when you age. Adding these six foods to your diet may help you maintain your health well into old age.
1. Lean Protein
Lean protein should be a part of every senior’s diet. While the best sources are meat, fish and poultry, lean protein can also be obtained through beans, dairy products, nuts and legumes.
When eating meats and fish, be sure to watch your portions. Portioning your food ahead of time can help you avoid the temptation of overeating.
If you’re having a hard time getting an adequate amount of protein each day, consider supplementing your diet with a nutritional shake.
2. Oily Fish
Oily fish will provide you with both protein and omega-3 fatty acids, which are vital to maintaining a healthy body. Try adding more salmon, mackerel and tuna into your diet.
If you’re concerned about mercury, wild Alaskan sockeye salmon has the lowest levels of mercury and is wild-caught.
Two servings of fatty fish per week will provide you with an adequate amount of omega-3s.
Canned salmon is a great option because most contain edible fish bones, which can add a nice calcium boost to your diet.
3. Colorful Vegetables
Vegetables should take up the largest portion of your plate when you sit down for a meal. Packed with vital nutrients, vegetables will help keep your body strong and healthy.
Aim to add a variety of different colored vegetables to your meals. Along with green staples like broccoli, peas, kale and spinach, consider adding bright yellows, oranges and reds. Peppers (red, yellow and orange) are a great addition to any meal, but you can also add carrots, radishes, yellow squash, turnips, eggplant and other colorful vegetables.
Vegetables add flavor and nutrition to your meals, so make sure you’re eating at least five servings per day.
4. Healthy Fats
It has been ingrained in our brains that fats are unhealthy, but our bodies need fat in order to function properly. In fact, newer studies show that saturated fat may not be a factor in heart disease, and that food quality plays a much bigger role in health.
Nevertheless, that does not mean you should splurge on unhealthy saturated fats. Instead, make sure your diet contains healthy fats, like olive oil, avocados, coconut oil and oily fish.
Nuts are a great source of healthy fats, protein and other important nutrients. Almonds, peanuts, walnuts, cashews, pistachios, pecans and other nuts make great snacks, but watch your portions when snacking. Nuts are high in calories and fat, so aim for just a handful.
If you can tolerate it, dairy is another great addition to a senior’s diet. Dairy products are rich in calcium, which helps keep bones strong and prevents osteoporosis.