Top superfoods for seniors

As we age, senior nutrition needs may change along with the amount of sleep we need and levels of physical activity. Fortunately, there are certain foods that pack a major punch of nutrients that can help keep you healthier, longer. Here are some of the top superfoods for seniors:

Olive oil
Several new diets, including the Mediterranean diet, have boasted the health benefits of consuming olive oil regularly. While you might think that all oils are bad for you, olive oil is widely known to be heart-healthy and may even reduce the risks of certain cancers. Olive oil contains monosaturated fat, which can control cholesterol levels.

In a recent study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, those who ate a diet high in extra-virgin olive oil were 30 percent less likely to have a heart attack, heart disease or a stroke after five years. To get more olive oil into your diet, consider using it when you cook instead of other oils or butter. As with anything, it is important not to go overboard with olive oil. It is recommended that you consume between one and two tablespoons per day.

Dark berries are packed with antioxidants that rid free radicals from the body. Free radicals have been known to cause cancer, though there is no direct evidence that indicates consuming blueberries may reduce the risk of developing cancer. However, blueberries may be helpful in memory care and brain function. Not to mention, these little berries are high in soluble fiber, which can aid in digestive health and lower cholesterol levels. While eating fresh foods is generally regarded as the best way to absorb the most amount of nutrients, you will still be able to gain many of the benefits from frozen berries.

Yogurt contains probiotics, which are important for gut health. Eating yogurt may reduce the risks of colon cancer and other inflammation in the digestive tract. Some nutritionists hail yogurt as an age-defying food. Though this has never been proven, yogurt is high in calcium to help strengthen bones and reduce the risk of developing diseases such as osteoporosis. Healthy diets should have some low-fat dairy products, which can include yogurt.

Fatty fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids can provide a lot of protein with few of the harms associated with red meat. Omega-3s are essential for heart health and can reduce the risks of developing chronic diseases or having a heart attack or stroke. According to the American Heart Association, you should consume fish twice per week in order to reap the health benefits. Fish rich in omega-3s include salmon, mackerel, albacore tuna, trout, herring and sardines. Getting enough omega-3s is best done through diet, but for those who don’t get enough of the nutrient through consumption, a doctor may recommend supplements.

The benefits of nuts are similar to those of olive oil, though eating them regularly – a few times per week or more – may help you live longer, according to a Harvard study. The study, which was published in the New England Journal of Medicine, revealed that those who regularly ate nuts at least seven times per week over a 30-year period were 20 percent less likely to die from any cause. Additionally, nut eaters were found to be slimmer, which dispelled any theories that nuts can make you gain weight from their high fat content. Other health benefits have also been connected to nut consumption, including a lower risk of heart disease, diabetes, colon cancer and gallstones.

Some of the best nuts to add to your diet for heart health are almonds, cashews, walnuts, pistachios, peanuts, hazelnuts, chestnuts, Brazil and macadamia. Some nuts are higher in calories than others, so it is important to keep in mind that moderation is always important for senior wellness. Be sure to steer away from nuts that might be covered with sugar or salt, as this can add unnecessary calories and cause trouble when it comes to maintaining a healthy body weight.

Red wine is full of antioxidants and can be helpful to your heart. Moderation is key with alcohol consumption, but a glass or two of red wine a few times per week may help reduce levels of low-density lipoproteins, also known as bad cholesterol, and boost high-density lipoproteins, or good cholesterol. Other studies have shown that red wine may also reduce tumor development and help fight cancer.

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Pete Blasi