By the time you’re a senior, you probably know the basics of a healthy diet — things like lots of fruits and vegetables, healthy proteins, whole grains, some dairy and healthy fats, and less salt.
Some foods are especially helpful for seniors who want to eat healthier. They include:
Water: Not a food, you say? Think of it as one. Many older people simply don’t drink enough water because they don’t feel as thirsty as they used to.
“Water is so underappreciated. Our bodies are mostly water. If you’re chronically dehydrated, just think of what your cells look like,” says Robin Foroutan, a New York nutritionist. “You can’t think as clearly, you get fatigued more easily, you don’t tolerate heat as well.
“People who complain of things like fatigue and mild headaches and constipation, most often they’re just dehydrated,” Foroutan says.
Blueberries: “Always delicious,” says Angel Planells, a nutritionist in Seattle, “and packed with various antioxidants.” Antioxidants are things, like vitamin C or vitamin E, that can prevent or minimize damage to your cells.
“You can’t go wrong with any of the berries, usually,” Planells says, “but blueberries really come packed with nutrients that are beneficial for the body.”
Fiber: Dietary fiber — from things like vegetables, whole grains, fruits, and legumes — helps regulate your digestive system. That can help ease constipation, which is an issue for many older people. It can lower your cholesterol, blood pressure, and inflammation. That can lead to a healthier heart.
Fiber can help control blood sugars and lower your risk of diabetes. And it helps you weigh what you should. That’s important because obesity can cause all sorts of problems.
Salmon: A heart-healthy all-star, salmon (and other fatty fish like mackerel and sardines) are high in omega-3 fatty acids. They help prevent heart disease and stroke. Try to get at least two servings a week.
Olive oil: A 2013 study showed a “significant” drop in “bad” cholesterol (LDL) and an increase in “good” cholesterol (HDL) among those given extra virgin olive oil. The experiment concluded that it helps increase your amount of the antioxidants we mentioned earlier.
Yogurt: Bone loss gets worse as you get older. Calcium helps keep it to a minimum, and yogurt is a good source of it. Get yogurt fortified with vitamin D, which aids in the absorption of that key mineral. Yogurt also helps you digest your food, and it has protein, too. And add some fruit, Planells says.