Healthy Eating for Older Adults

In honor of National Nutrition Month we would like to educate you on healthy eating for older adults.

ErnteEating a variety of foods from all food groups can help you get the nutrients your body needs as you age. A healthy eating plan emphasizes fruit, vegetables, whole grains and low-fat or fat-free dairy; includes lean meat, poultry, fish, beans, eggs and nuts; and is low in saturated fats, trans fats, cholesterol, salt (sodium) and added sugars.

Eating right doesn’t have to be complicated. Start with these recommendations from the Dietary Guidelines for Americans:

  • Eat fruits and vegetables. They can be fresh, frozen or canned. Eat more dark green vegetables like leafy greens or broccoli and orange vegetables like carrots and sweet potatoes.
  • Vary your protein choices with more fish, beans and peas.
  • Eat at least three ounces of whole-grain cereals, breads, crackers, rice or pasta every day.
  • Have three servings of low-fat or fat-free dairy (milk, yogurt or cheese) that are fortified with vitamin D to help keep your bones healthy.
  • Make the fats you eat healthy ones (polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats). Switch from solid fats to oils when preparing food.

Add Physical Activity

Balancing physical activity and a healthful diet is your best recipe for health and fitness. Set a goal to be physically active at least 30 minutes every day. You can break up your physical activity into 10-minute sessions throughout the day.

If you are currently inactive, start with a few minutes of activity, such as walking, and gradually increase this time as you become stronger. Check with your healthcare provider before beginning a new physical activity program.

For more information on eating right or National Nutrition Month go to www.eatright.org.

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New Year New You: Limit your sodium intake to keep a healthy heart

About 90 percent of Americans eat more sodium than is recommended for a healthy diet. Too much sodium increases a person’s risk for high blood pressure, which often leads to heart disease and stroke. The American Heart Association has recently lowered its recommendation to 1,500 milligrams of sodium daily for the general public. Americans eat on average about 3,300 mg of sodium a day.

Most of the sodium we eat comes from processed foods and foods prepared in restaurants. Sodium is involved in the preservation of foods and cannot be removed. However, manufacturers and restaurants can produce foods with less sodium. At a restaurant or grocery store, select lower-sodium foods when possible. You can also cook more foods yourself to better control how much sodium you eat.

More than 40 percent of sodium comes from the following 10 types of foods:

  • breads and rolls
  • cold cuts and cured meats
  • pizza
  • poultry
  • soups
  • sandwiches
  • cheese
  • pasta dishes
  • meat dishes
  • snacks

 

Ideas to reduce salt intake

  1. Eat more fresh foods and fewer processed or packaged items. Fresh fruits and vegetables are naturally low in sodium.
  2. Choose fresh and frozen poultry or meat that hasn’t been injected with a sodium-containing solution. Fresh meat is lower in sodium than more processed meat choices.
  3. If you do choose to buy processed foods, look for those labeled “low sodium.”
  4. Remove salt from recipes whenever possible. You are able to remove salt in casseroles, stews and other main dishes.
  5. Remove the salt shaker from the table and taste your foods before adding additional seasonings
  6. Limit the use of condiments such as soy sauce, salad dressings, sauces, dips, ketchup, mustard and relish.
  7. Use alternative flavorings to enhance foods. Try using fresh herbs, spices, zest from citrus fruits, or fruit juices to jazz up your meals.
  8. When dining out share entrees, order small portions, and ask for your meal to be prepared without salt. Ask for no sauce or have it on the side and use it sparingly.

Use the nutrition label to help make low sodium purchases:
Sodium Free: each serving contains 5 mg (milligrams) of sodium or less.
Very low sodium: each serving contains 35 mg of sodium or less.
Low sodium: each serving contains 140 mg of sodium or less.
Reduced or less sodium: each serving contains at least 25 percent less sodium than the original version.
Light in sodium: each serving contains at least 50 percent less sodium than the original version.
Unsalted or no salt added: no salt has been added during processing.

Work on decreasing your salt intake slowly. Your taste buds will gradually adjust and you will begin to enjoy the true flavor of food while you reap the benefits of eating healthy for your heart.