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Vital Nutrients to Support Healthy Aging
The foods we eat play a vital role in healthy aging. Whole foods are packed with key nutrients and antioxidants. They promote optimal health and may ward off chronic diseases such as diabetes, cancer, heart disease and stroke. Vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, fish and nuts provide these key vital nutrients.
Healthy Aging Eating Plan:
- Provide a Balance of Essential Nutrients – include protein, healthy carbs and fats along with vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients.
- ∙ Protein is essential to maintain muscle mass.
- ∙ Carbohydrates provide energy, along with fiber to aid in regularity.
- ∙ Healthy fats contain omega-3 fatty acids that fight inflammation, improve risk factors for heart disease, and may help improve memory and sleep.
- ∙ Vitamins, minerals & phytonutrients supply antioxidants to protect cells in the body from damage, along with other vital functions.
- Enhance Diet Quality – eat minimally processed foods with a variety of colorful produce, legumes, whole grains, fish and low-fat dairy.
- Include Foods You Enjoy that Fit Your Budget – Frozen produce can be substituted for fresh if it is more affordable, easier to store & prepare.
Healthy Aging in Every Bite
There is no “magic bullet” to turn back the hands of time, although research continues to link healthy aging to a balanced diet and lifestyle. Current studies suggest striving for the following when it comes to nutrition:
- Maintain a healthy weight.
- Choose whole foods and avoid foods that are processed.
- Fill your plate with colorful vegetables.
- Have lean protein with fish at least twice a week.
- Include legumes each week.
- Choose whole grains high in fiber.
- Include low-fat dairy products, if tolerated, especially Greek yogurt.
- Select healthy fats in moderation, such as nuts, avocados & olive oil.
- Use fresh herbs to flavor food and cut back on salt.
- Try fresh whole fruit for dessert most days of the week.
- As a treat, have a small piece of dark chocolate (up to 1 ounce).
- Keep hydrated, water is the most essential nutrient.
Bottom Line: What we eat is vital to our health, however, lifestyle also plays a role in healthy aging. Regular exercise, plenty of sleep, managing stress, keeping engaged and having or creating a support circle of friends all are factors. Easier said than done! The key is to take it one step at a time. Start small and gradually build on each of these elements so that it becomes part of your lifestyle. Don’t forget to have fun, sing, dance and laugh!
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