Best Foods For Seniors

Thanks to modern medicine and all of the healthy-living information out there, the elderly—those 65 and older—are now the fastest-growing segment of the population worldwide.

Seniors are often committed to taking better care of themselves, but as you get into your 70s and 80s, it’s not always easy to eat right, especially if you live alone. When you don’t have a family to cook for, and aren’t all that hungry to begin with, reaching for a bag of chips or a frozen dinner may seem way more convenient than sitting down to a well-balanced meal.

Well, ditch the excuses. As you get older, healthy eating habits become even more important, helping to combat debilitating conditions like osteoporosis, diabetes, and heart disease. In fact, one study found that as much as half of all health problems in the elderly are related to poor diet. With that in mind, we put together some simple tips that’ll help you eat right and get all the good-for-you, health-boosting nutrients you need, without too much effort.


As you get older, your metabolism slows down (those stubborn extra inches around your middle may have been your first clue), which means you don’t need to consume as many calories in a day. But while you may be eating less, you need to boost the healthfulness of your meals. Meals should be chock-full of essential nutrients.

Particularly important for seniors are calcium, vitamin D, B12, protein, and fiber. The good news: Studies have found that those who eat less actually live longer, not only because they maintain a more healthy body weight, but also because they may be producing fewer damaging free radicals.


Liven up the dinner hour by creating a plate that looks bright and beautiful, loaded with fresh, healthy foods. Your body needs at least five servings of fruits and vegetables a day to reduce your risk of heart disease, lower your blood pressure and cancer risk, protect your eyesight, and more.


No, you’re not imagining things—food may taste blander to you than it did once upon a time. That’s because your sense of smell and taste start to diminish in your later years, so dishes that may have once tickled your taste buds may now fall flat. Of course, that does nothing to help with a diminished appetite. 

Unfortunately, adding salt will just boost your blood pressure, which you definitely don’t want. Instead, get creative with spices and seasonings. You can add cinnamon to your morning oatmeal, garlic powder and dried basil to your vegetable soup, and oregano, thyme, rosemary, and sage to everything from baked chicken breasts to roasted potatoes.


The Japanese have the longest life expectancy in the world, especially those who live in the Okinawan Islands. What’s their secret? A diet loaded with healthy grains, vegetables, fish, and soy, but very scant on meat, poultry, and dairy.

Similarly, certain religious groups that follow a vegetarian diet also seem to have a longer life expectancy. It makes sense when you think about it: Those who consume little red meat and poultry usually weigh less, consume fewer bad fats, and eat more antioxidant-rich vegetables and fruits.


You know that water is good for you and that you should be drinking it more often, but for a variety of reasons, seniors often neglect to replenish their H2O. Thanks to bladder-control problems that come with advanced age, you may not want to drink too many fluids, for fear you’ll be running off to the bathroom every 10 minutes. Plus, your sensitivity to thirst diminishes, so you may not even be aware when your body is in desperate need of water.

All of these issues make you more susceptible to dehydration, which can cause you to become dizzy, fatigued, even confused. It can also contribute to constipation and even kidney problems. So be sure that you’re getting at least six to eight glasses of liquid every day. You may even want to purchase two or three refillable BPA-free plastic water bottles that you can keep around your house and in your car to remind you to rehydrate, and make it more convenient to do so.


Sitting down to a healthy meal is that much more enjoyable with a nice glass of wine or even a cold beer. The best part: a little bit of imbibing with a meal actually aids digestion. Also, according to research, red wine has been shown to have powerful antiaging effects, thanks to an ingredient called resveratrol.

Of course, you don’t want to go overboard—just one glass will do. Plus, you’ll want to check with your doctor to make sure that alcohol won’t interact negatively with any medications you’re taking.


Aim to incorporate these foods into your diet every day:

Calcium is essential to help maintain good bone health and prevent osteoporosis. Those over 70 need at least 1,200 mg a day, which is a lot. Luckily, it’s in a number of healthy foods, including dark green leafy vegetables like spinach—just 1 cup (237 mL) of cooked spinach gives you about 250 mg of calcium.

In order for your body to absorb calcium, you need a daily supply of vitamin D. Often, you get that dose from exposure to sunlight, but if you find you spend a lot of time indoors, you’ll need to supplement. Milk is fortified with vitamin D, so a glass or two every day will give you some of what you need.

Omega-3 fatty acids, found in fish oils, are pretty much like a fountain of youth for the elderly. Not only do they prevent heart attack, but studies also found they can reduce your risk of macular degeneration and vision loss, as well as protect against Alzheimer’s disease. Researchers recommend eating fish high in omega-3 fatty acids but low in mercury—like salmon, trout, mackerel, herring, and sardines—a few times a week.

A recent study found that blueberries and strawberries may actually slow down mental decline in the elderly. Apparently, the flavonoids, abundant in berries, have powerful antioxidant properties that reduce the organ inflammation often blamed for cognitive impairment in seniors. Beans. Legumes are packed with soluble fiber, known to help lower your bad cholesterol and blood sugar and help to curb constipation. As you get older, your digestive system slows down, so you’ll need to consume even more fiber to help move things along.

They are a staple in any vegetarian diet because in addition to all that fiber, they’re also full of protein and B vitamins, but with little saturated fat.

-Whole grains.
Another high-fiber food, whole grains have the added benefit of protecting against heart disease, diabetes, metabolic syndrome and cancer. If your doctor is concerned about you losing weight, whole grain bread and crackers are a tasty, healthy way to help pack on pounds.

High in potassium, this sweet melon should be a diet staple for seniors. Not only does it lower blood pressure, it also helps build muscle strength.


• To ward off debilitating diseases such as diabetes and cancer, seniors need to be more aware of their diets.

• Seniors may eat less, but they need to make sure their meals supply the essential nutrients for this stage of life.

• Nutrients especially important during the senior years include calcium, vitamin D, B12, protein, and fiber.

• Properly hydrating with six to eight glasses of water a day can help keep bodily functions running smoothly.
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