Five simple choices for a healthier diet
Have you been feeling sluggish, a little blue or tired lately? The donut you had for breakfast may be one of the culprits.
For older adults, adopting a healthy diet will keep you mentally sharp, help you resist illness and disease, and stimulate your energy levels. “Good nutrition is critical to overall health and well-being,” says the Mayo Clinic, “yet many older adults are at risk of inadequate nutrition.” There are many reasons for this, including grief after losing a loved one and restricted diets, but with a few easy changes, you will reap the benefits:
Fruit – To get more fiber and vitamins, choose whole fruits rather than juices. Bananas are fine, but keep in mind a fruit’s color. Brightly colored fruits like strawberries and blueberries are low in fat and calories, and contain antioxidants that might protect you from a host of diseases. Munch on dried fruit as an energy-rich snack. Aim for four servings every day.
Veggies – Eating vegetables can help you avoid chronic diseases, and are low in calories and fat. Color matters here, too. Try to include dark, leafy greens, such as kale, spinach, and broccoli, as well as orange and yellow vegetables, such as carrots, squash, and yams. Get three to four servings every day.
Dairy – Getting adequate calcium can help you maintain bone health, prevent osteoporosis and avoid bone fractures. Older adults need 1,200 mg of calcium a day. Milk, yogurt, and cheese are good choices; look for fat-free and low-fat versions. Non-dairy sources include tofu, broccoli, almonds, and kale. Aim for three servings every day.
Grains – You’ll get more nutrients and fiber if you choose whole grains rather than processed white flour. Add oatmeal to your breakfast and brown rice to your supper. Try to get three to four servings every day.
Protein – Protein is important for preventing certain health conditions, but beware: avoid foods like fatty cuts of beef that are high in saturated fat and cholesterol as they may actually cause serious health conditions such as heart disease. Get more high-quality protein in your diet, including fish, free-range chicken and turkey, dairy, plant-based protein sources, or organic, grass-fed red meat. Eat less than 6 ounces in a day.
For additional healthy eating tips and details on serving sizes, visit http://www.choosemyplate.gov/.