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In a perfect world, we would all live long, healthy, youthful lives. Truthfully, there is no specific cream or magic potion that will keep us vital once we reach our senior years. Instead, a combination of healthy lifestyle choices that includes a natural foods diet can help fight the signs of aging.
Top 10 Superfoods for Seniors
Healthy eating habits are vital at any age, but especially for people over the age of 50. A healthy anti-aging diet can help reduce inflammation in the body. Inflammation increases the risk of serious diseases and conditions, including cancer, heart disease, diabetes, osteoporosis, arthritis, and Alzheimerâs disease.
For a number of years now, there has been a lot of excitement around superfoods. These are simply foods packed with important vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients. Some of these youâve likely been eating since childhood. Other superfoods may be new to you. A combination of superfoods can help prevent diseases and add to your quality of life.
Here are the top 10 superfoods for seniors:
The anti-aging diet should always include foods heavy in omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 can help reduce inflammation in the body and lower heart disease risk factors, such as hypertension and high cholesterol. Avocados and extra virgin olive oil are high in heart-healthy monounsaturated fats and among the best sources of omega-3 for the anti-aging diet.
Avocados and olive oil contain many other important nutrients that help fight diseases. Olive oil contains polyphenols, which can help prevent bone loss. The polyphenols in olive oil also help reduce the risk of certain cancers, such as breast, colorectal, respiratory tract, and cancer of the upper digestive tract.
Avocados also contain beneficial phytochemicals essential for eye health called lutein and zeaxanthin. The vitamin K found in avocados promotes the maintenance of healthy bones. The folate in avocados can also protect against stomach, pancreatic, cervical, and colon cancers.
Avocados are a great addition to green smoothies, and olive oil is a healthy fat source for salads, pesto, or dressings. Image copyright 2009, Jaanus Silla
1. Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Extra Virgin Olive Oil and Avocados
Fatty fish are an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids. The American Heart Association recommends at least two weekly servings of 3.5 oz. of fatty fish, such as salmon, sardines, cod, herring, lake trout, mackerel, or tuna. In a 2014 observational analysis published in Nutrition Journal, researchers discovered that very few adults, including people over 50, consume the recommended levels of fatty fish.
The heavy omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid content in fatty fish can help prevent against cardiovascular disease, reduce the risk of rheumatoid arthritis, and prevent skin and oral cancers. Adequate fatty acid intake can also improve memory and vision problems. Image copyright 2012, Camilo Rueda LÃ³pez
2. Fatty Fish: Salmon, Cod, and Sardines
What is healthier than having a handful of dark leafy greens in a smoothie? The most popular varieties include spinach, kale, Swiss chard, and collard greens. Dark leafy greens should be included in most diets, but they are especially good superfoods for seniors. Dark leafy vegetables are excellent sources of several nutrients.
Dark leafy greens are a great source of vitamin A and carotenoids that promote vision health. They are loaded with vitamin K, which can help promote healthy bones. These greens also contain other antioxidants such as vitamin C, vitamin E, selenium, and zincâthey all help support a strong immune system and protect the body against diseases.
3. Dark Leafy Greens: Kale, Spinach, Collard Greens, and Swiss Chard
Cruciferous vegetables are also important superfoods for seniors and theyâre great with smoothies or salads. They include broccoli, broccoli sprouts, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, and cabbage. Cruciferous vegetables contain the special glucosinolate called glucoraphaninâthis is converted into the detoxification compound sulforaphane. Sulforaphane contains anti-cancer abilitiesâit helps eliminate carcinogens and prevent cancer cell growth.
Many cruciferous vegetables are also good sources of calcium and vitamin C. The vitamin C from these powerhouse veggies helps improve calcium absorption for building strong bones and preventing osteoporosis. Cruciferous vegetables also contain many nutrients that help promote heart health, including magnesium, omega-3 fatty acids, potassium, vitamin E, vitamin B6, and fiber. Image copyright 2012, liz west
4. Cruciferous Vegetables: Broccoli, Cauliflower, and Broccoli Sprouts
Heavy metals and toxic chemicals are everywhere in the environment, including contaminated water, cooking ware, and processed foods. Mercury fillings are also known to create toxicity in the body. Chlorella is a superfood algae plant that is a high source of chlorophyll; it is useful for cleansing toxins and elimination systems in the body, such as the blood, liver, and bowel.
Cilantro and parsley are also known to chelate heavy metals from the body that helps prevent disease. Chlorella, parsley, and cilantro also contain anti-inflammatory properties that boost the immune system and help reduce the risk of cancer. Chlorella is popular as a supplement, while cilantro and parsley can be used to flavor almost any meal.
5. Special Greens: Chlorella, Cilantro, and Parsley
Beets and beet greens should also be included in an anti-aging diet for seniors. The beetroot contains a unique phytonutrient called betalains. Betaxanthin and betacyanin are two betalain phytonutrients that contain potent antioxidant properties.
In a 2001 study published in the journal Anti-Cancer Agents in Medicinal Chemistry, researchers suggested that the betacyanin found in beetroot can help prevent the development of cancer. The fiber, folate, potassium, vitamin C, and magnesium also promote heart health, and the phytonutrients are known to prevent the development of atherosclerosis.
The anti-inflammatory properties in beets also promote weight loss and brain health, while preventing other risk factors with older adults such as heart disease, hypertension, arthritis, diabetes, osteoporosis, and candida. Image copyright 2012, liz west
6. Root Vegetables: Beets and Beet Greens
The standard American diet is full of breads, baked goods, cereals, and white rice that are high on the glycemic index and will raise blood sugar levels. A positive alternative is non-gluten grains that have a low glycemic effect, such as quinoa, buckwheat, teff, and wild rice. Buckwheat, quinoa, and other non-gluten grains also contain fiber and magnesium that are important for heart health.
Fiber helps reduce cholesterol, and magnesium is important for proper blood circulation. It is also best to eat high glycemic and fast cooking grains like rice and oats sparingly. Grains in general are good for the anti-aging diet when eaten with vegetables (to help balance blood sugar levels). Image copyright 2010, Jennifer
7. Grains: Quinoa, Wild Rice, and Buckwheat
Garlic, turmeric, and ginger are among the most powerful healing herbs and spices on the planet! They should accompany any anti-aging or superfoods diet. Garlic contains the anti-inflammatory sulfur phytonutrients that help protect against osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Regular garlic consumption also promotes a healthy immune system.
Ginger and turmeric also contain anti-inflammatory properties that help fight diseases such as arthritis, heart disease, and cancer. Ginger contains the anti-inflammatory compounds called gingerols, while the potent anti-inflammatory in turmeric is known as curcumin. Ginger, garlic, and turmeric are known to have protective effects against Alzheimerâs disease as well.
8. Herbs and Spices: Garlic, Turmeric, and Ginger
Nuts are another powerhouse superfood, and a great addition to an anti-aging diet. Almonds, walnuts, and cashews are great choices as superfoods for seniors. They are excellent sources of the monounsaturated fat oleic acid that promotes heart health. Cashews, walnuts, and almonds are also good sources of magnesium and phosphorus that help promote bone health.
Magnesium is important for the structure of bones, while phosphorus combines with calcium to help strengthen bones. Eating a handful of nuts is also a good alternative to sweets (and it controls cravings!) Most nuts measure at virtually zero on the glycemic index and they are a good way to control blood sugar levels. Image copyright 2008, Harsha K R
9. Nuts: Almonds, Walnuts, and Cashews
Flaxseeds have long been considered the best plant-based source of the omega-3 fatty acid alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). It is an important anti-inflammatory nutrient to protect against arthritis and coronary heart disease. It also reduces high blood pressure. It is always best to grind flaxseeds with a coffee grinder before consumption to prevent them from going rancid. Other seeds are also important superfoods for seniors, including sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, and sunflower seeds. Sunflower seeds are good for mental function, while pumpkin seeds and sesame seeds can help complement healthy bones and joints. Image copyright 2009, Alisha Vargas
10. Seeds: Flaxseeds, Sesame Seeds, and Pumpkin Seeds
The superfoods for seniors donât end there. Your anti-aging diet should also include green tea, and powerful herbal teas such as roobios tea, chamomile, or pau dâarco tea. The anti-aging foods diet can also include some antioxidant-rich fruits, such as apples and berries.
It is important to consider what foods not to include within an anti-aging diet. It is best to avoid foods that stimulate inflammation, such as milk or other dairy products, processed snacks like potato chips, and processed meats like hot dogs, pepperoni, and bacon. Sugar and alcohol consumption should also be limited. Image copyright 2006, McKay Savage
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