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Healthy Eating for Seniors

Summary: Healthy eating for seniors can lead to a 31% lower risk of heart disease, prevent chronic conditions, helps you maintain strong bones, and helps improve your overall quality of life. Estimated Read Time: 7 min

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Table of Contents:

  1. Why is Healthy Eating Important for Seniors?
  2. Tips for Choosing Healthy Foods for Seniors
  3. Foods You Should Avoid
  4. Healthy Meals for Seniors to Cook at Home
  5. Does Medicare Cover Nutrition Services?

It is no secret that healthy eating and staying active is the miracle combination for living a long healthy life, and this remains true throughout your golden years. Healthy eating is just as important for seniors as it helps to reduce health complications and extend your life expectancy.

While the exact meaning of a healthy and balanced meal does slightly change as we age, it is important to understand the nutrients your body needs at any stage in life to perform at its best.

Why is Healthy Eating Important for Seniors?

Studies have made it possible to link healthy eating to the prevention of major health concerns like coronary artery disease, ischemic strokes, sudden cardiac deaths, and heart disease. In other words, eating a more balanced diet can lead to a longer and healthier life.

Healthy eating is crucial for seniors as it directly contributes to their overall well-being. A balanced diet is essential for better aging and allows you to live a more active lifestyle.

As we age, our bodies undergo several changes that affect how we process food and nutrients. A slower metabolism, aging organs, and heightened risk for chronic conditions make it even more important to take caution with the foods we put into our bodies.

There are several pros that come alongside healthy eating. These include:

  • Stronger bones
  • Maintain energy levels
  • Healthier body weight
  • Lower cancer risk
  • Better overall health
  • Increased cognitive function

According to the World Health Organization, adequate nutrition lowers the risk of chronic diseases and shortened life spans in older adults. Diabetes, Cardiovascular disease, and Osteoporosis are just a few of the major chronic conditions that can be prevented due to healthy changes in your diet.

Individuals over the age of 60 already have a heightened risk of developing cardiovascular disease and diabetes due to their aging bodies. However, this can be avoided by adopting healthy lifestyle choices, including the food you use to fuel your body.

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According to a study published in The Journal of Nutrition, individuals consistent with a balanced diet show a 31% lower risk of heart disease, a 33% lower risk of diabetes, and a 20% lower risk of stroke.

By taking these precautions earlier rather than later, your chance of developing a life-threatening cardiac aliment is severely reduced.

Tips for Choosing Healthy Foods for Seniors

If you find yourself struggling to make healthy choices when it comes to your food, or you just don’t know where to begin, we are here to help.

First, it is important to understand what a healthy plate looks like. The USDA healthy eating tool, MyPlate, is an online tool that allows you to take a quiz to understand exactly what a healthy meal would look like for you in terms of serving sizes for each of the five main food groups.

According to the USDA, individuals who follow the recommendations from this tool based on their correct age and gender have a 14% lower risk of cardiovascular disease than those who do not adhere to the recommendations. Thus, lowering your risk of needing to visit a cardiologist in the future.

Second, it is also important to read the nutrition facts and ingredient lists before you consume foods. Seniors should look for whole foods and items with fewer processed ingredients. It is important to keep your eye open for added sugars, saturated fats, and sodium levels of the food you purchase. Often, these ingredients can be hidden on the back of the packaging in small font.

Lastly, eating the recommended serving sized for your age and body can help you maintain a healthy weight. It is important not to overdo it when eating as this can cause digestion issues and create unwanted discomfort.

Overall, being mindful of the choices you make is the most important aspect of creating a healthy diet for yourself. 

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Foods You Should Avoid

At any age, certain foods can negatively impact your health. However, overtime, the impact of these foods become more extreme to our aging bodies.

When planning meals, it is important to avoid the following:

  • Added Sugars
  • Saturated Fat
  • Trans Fats
  • Excessive Sodium
  • Refined Carbohydrates: white bread, pasta, crackers, cereal, and sweets

Foods with unnecessary added sugars include:

  • Soda
  • Candy
  • Baked goods

Foods with high levels of saturated fats include:

  • High-fat meats
  • Butter
  • Full-fat dairy products
  • Coconut oil

Foods containing trans fats include:

  • Margarine
  • Shortening
  • Fried food

Foods with excessive sodium include:

  • Processed and packaged foods
  • Deli meat
  • Fast food
  • Canned soups

While it would be best to cut these foods entirely from your diet. It may not be entirely possible based on your individual situation. However, minimizing consumption of these foods can help maintain blood sugar levels, reduce inflammation, lower cholesterol, and control weight.

Healthy Meals for Seniors to Cook at Home

Contrary to popular belief, healthy does not always have to be complex. Often, you’ll find healthy meals contain less ingredients, making them easier to cook at home. Additionally, when cooking meals at home, it is important to follow the recommended serving of each major food group to ensure you are providing your body with the right type of fuel it needs to function properly.

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For example, individuals ages 65 and older should be eating about 20% more lean protein than younger adults to maintain the same essential body functions fueled by protein. These include cell growth and repair and muscle strength. The recommended daily intake of protein for females 65 and older is 57 grams per day where males should be takin in nearly 81 grams per day.

Without the proper amount of protein, your body functions could reduce causing issues in the long run. By following the recommended daily intake levels of each major food group, you can help reduce the risk of future health complications.

Healthy but easy meals for seniors include:

  • One pan salmon and vegetables
  • Berry chicken salad
  • Veggie stir-fry
  • Garlic roasted eggplant with creamy yogurt sauce
  • Grilled Chicken and brown rice
  • Shrimp pasta with fresh greens

Each of these meals can be made with limited fresh ingredients that provide the recommended servings of each essential food group.

Does Medicare Cover Nutrition Services?

If you are interested in nutrition services, Medicare may cover this benefit. Medicare will typically cover the full cost of nutrition services for individuals who are diabetic, have kidney disease, or who have had a kidney transplant in the last three years. However, if you do not fall under any of these categories, Medicare should still provide coverage for these services after you cover the coinsurance amount.

To explore Medicare plan options in your area that may cover nutrition services, complete our online rate form today! We look forward to helping you in your journey to cleaner eating and a healthier lifestyle.

Sources

MedicareFAQ is dedicated to providing you with authentic and trustworthy Medicare information. We have strict sourcing guidelines and work diligently to serve our readers with accurate and up-to-date content.

  1. Alternative Dietary Indices Both Strongly Predict Risk of Chronic Disease, The Journal of nutrition. Accessed January 2024.
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22513989/
  2. Malnutrition, WHO. Accessed January 2024.
    https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/malnutrition
  3. Healthy Eating Tips for Seniors, SilverSneakers . Accessed January 2024.
    https://www.silversneakers.com/blog/healthy-eating-tips-for-seniors/
  4. Healthy Eating Tips for Seniors, NCOA. Accessed January 2024.
    https://www.ncoa.org/article/healthy-eating-tips-for-seniors
  5. Best Diet for Seniors, Health Partners. Accessed January 2024.
    https://www.healthpartners.com/blog/best-diet-for-seniors/
Kayla Hopkins

Kayla Hopkins

Content Editor
Kayla Hopkins is an accomplished writer and Medicare guru serving as the Editor of MedicareFAQ.com. Upon completing her Communications degree from Ohio University, Kayla dedicated her time to understanding the ever-evolving landscape of healthcare. With her extensive background as a Licensed Medicare Insurance Agent, she brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to her writing.
Ashlee Zareczny

Ashlee Zareczny

Compliance Manager
Ashlee Zareczny is the Compliance Manager for MedicareFAQ. As a licensed Medicare agent in all 50 states, she is dedicated to educating those eligible for Medicare by providing the necessary resources and tools. Additionally, Ashlee trains new and tenured Medicare agents on CMS compliance guidelines. Ashlee is a Medicare expert who specializes in Medicare Supplement, Medicare Advantage, and Medicare Part D education.

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