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September 2013

Ten Foods for Healthy Aging

The foods we eat play a vital role to healthy aging.  Whole foods packed with key nutrients and antioxidants promote optimal health and may ward off chronic diseases such as; diabetes, cancer, heart disease and stroke.  Fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, fish and nuts provide these key nutrients, especially the ten foods noted below.

Greens - Broccoli, cabbage, spinach and kale.  These vegetables are nutrient dense, low in calories and packed with nutrients.  Fresh or frozen, steam them and season with herbs, lemon or olive oil. Half of your plate should be vegetables.
Tomatoes - Raw or cooked, tomatoes are an excellent source of vitamin A, C, potassium and the phytonutrient lycopene.  Include a variety of colorful tomatoes; a fresh tomato salad with basil and olive oil, low sodium tomato soup or pasta and tomato sauce.
Berries - All berries are lower in sugar than most fruit, contribute fiber and phytonutrients.  Blueberries are linked with memory!  Buy fresh or frozen (no added sugar).  Berries are great eaten alone or with plain nonfat Greek yogurt.
Fish - Salmon, herring, sardines and tuna are especially rich in omega 3 fats, linked to many health benefits.  Bake broil or grill instead of battered and fried.  Strive for at least 7 ounces of fish a week and select a variety of species. 
Legumes - Lentils, black beans, chickpeas and black-eyed peas are all an excellent source of fiber, calcium, iron, potassium and protein.  Add garbanzo beans to salads or have a hearty vegetable lentil soup.  Have 1½c of legumes each week. 
Whole Grains - Rolled oats, barley, brown rice, quinoa and whole grain bread, contribute complex carbohydrates, fiber, B-complex vitamins. Recommend 3 servings (½c or 1 slice bread equals a serving) daily.
Herbs - Garlic, ginger, onions, mint, oregano, parsley, rosemary.  Can aid in digestion and decrease inflammation.  Experiment with different herbs and use as a substitute for salt!
Tea - A restorative drink with potential heart benefits and a way to keep hydrated.  Try decaffeinated or make tea “weaker” to minimize diuretic effects of caffeine.
Nuts -  Almonds, walnuts, pistachios, although high in fat they are a good source of protein and fiber.  Moderation is key, since the calories add up quickly.  Add slivered almonds to green beans or chop up a few to top off a yogurt fruit parfait.
Dark Chocolate - The darker the more apparent health benefits.  A little goes a long way, chocolate is high in saturated fat. 

Healthy Aging in Every Bite
There is no “magic bullet” to turn back the hands of time, although research continues.  For now best bets are to:

  • Maintain a healthy weight.
  • Fill your plate with colorful fruits and vegetables.
  • Have fish at least twice a week.
  • Include legumes each week.
  • Choose whole grains high in fiber.
  • Select healthy fats in moderation, such as; nuts, avocados & olive oil.
  • Use fresh herbs to flavor food and cut back on salt.
  • Drink unsweetened tea.
  • As a treat have a small piece of dark chocolate (up to 1 ounce)
  • Avoid processed foods.

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