NDSU Extension Service - Ramsey County


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Eating Right for Older Adults

Eating Right for Older Adults


            In honor of March, National Nutrition Month, the American Dietetic Association has several terrific reminders on how important nutritious eating is at all ages.


Have a Healthy Eating Plan:

• Emphasizes fruit, vegetables, whole grains and low-fat or fat-free milk and milk products

• Includes lean meats, poultry, fish, beans, eggs and nuts.

• Is low in saturated fats, trans fats, cholesterol, salt (sodium) and added sugars.


Make Your Calories Count

            Think nutrient-rich rather than “good” or “bad” foods. The majority of your food choices should be packed with vitamins, minerals, fiber and other nutrients—and lower in calories. Older adults need fewer calories than in younger years. Making smart food choices can help you stay healthy, manage your weight and be physically active.


Focus on Variety

            Eat a variety of foods from all the food groups to get the nutrients your body needs. Fruits and vegetables can be fresh, frozen or canned. Include more dark green vegetables such as leafy greens and broccoli and orange vegetables like carrots and sweet potatoes. Vary your protein choices with more fish, beans and peas. And, eat at least 3 ounces of whole grain cereals, breads, crackers, rice or pasta every day.


Know Your Fats

            Look for foods low in saturated fats, trans fats and cholesterol to help reduce the risk of heart disease. Most of the fats you eat should be polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats. Check the Nutrition Facts panel on food labels for total fat and saturated fat.


Physical Activity for Fitness and Health

            Balancing physical activity and a healthful diet is your best recipe for managing weight and promoting overall health and fitness. Set a goal to be physically active at least 30 minutes every day. You can break up your physical activity into 10 minute sessions throughout the day. If you are currently inactive, start with a few minutes of activity such as walking.


Older Adults have Special Nutrient Needs

            Older adults need more vitamin D and calcium to help maintain bone health. Include three servings of vitamin D-fortified, low-fat or fat-free milk and yogurt each day. Other calcium-rich foods are fortified cereals and fruit juices, dark green leafy vegetables and canned fish with soft bones. If you take a calcium supplement or multivitamin, choose one that contains vitamin D.  Many people over 50 do not get enough vitamin B12. Fortified cereal, lean meat and some fish and seafood are sources of vitamin B12. Ask your doctor or dietitian if you need a vitamin B12 supplement. Increasing your intake of potassium along with reducing sodium (salt) may lower your risk of high blood pressure. Fruits, vegetables and low-fat or fat-free milk and yogurt are good sources of potassium. Also, choose and prepare foods with little or no added salt.


            Using low-fat milk instead of cream lowers the saturated fat content in this hearty dish.


Corn Chowder

1 T. vegetable oil

2 T. celery, finely diced

2 T. onion, finely diced

2 T. green pepper, finely diced

1 pkg (10 oz) frozen whole kernel corn

1 C. raw potatoes, peeled and diced

1 C. water

¼ tsp salt and pepper to taste

¼ tsp. paprika

2 C. milk, fat-free or low-fat

2 T. flour

2 T. parsley, chopped (optional)

            Sauté celery, onion and green pepper in oil for 2 minutes.  Add corn, potatoes, water, salt, pepper and paprika. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium.  Cook, covered, for about 10minutes or until potatoes are tender.  Pour ½ C of milk in container with tight-fitting lid. Add flour and shake vigorously.  Add flour/milk mixture gradually to cooked vegetables. Add remaining milk.  Cook, stirring constantly, until mixture comes to a boil and thickens.

            Makes four servings.  One serving – 186 calories, 5 mg cholesterol, 7 g protein, 205 mg sodium




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