NDSU Extension Service - Ramsey County


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Eating Right for Older Adults

Eating Right for Older Adults


          In celebration of March, National Nutrition Month, the American Dietetic Association reminds us that eating right doesn’t have to be complicated.  Good nutrition is especially important for older adults who may have health concerns or wish to avoid them in the near future.  Start with the following recommendations from the Dietary Guidelines for Americans.


          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. Most 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.


          How Many Calories Do I Need?

•The number of calories you need each day depends on your age, gender and activity level.  Women who are: Sedentary (not active) 1,600 calories per day, Moderately active 1,800 calories per day, Active 2,000 calories per day

For men who are: Sedentary 2,000 calories per day, Moderately active 2,200 to 2,400 calories per day, Active 2,400 to 2,800 calories per day


          Need help eating right and staying active? Visit www.eatright.org and



          Love the taste of fried chicken but hate the excess calories and fat? Here’s a solution from the American Diabetes Association that’s sure to please.


Low-Fat Oven-Fried Chicken - 6 servings

1 cup plain low-fat yogurt

1 teaspoon paprika

1 teaspoon dried thyme

1⁄2 teaspoon salt

1⁄4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 clove garlic, minced

6 skinless chicken breast halves or 6 skinless chicken thighs (1 3⁄4 to 2 pounds)

1 cup seasoned bread crumbs

1 tablespoon margarine, melted

          Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.  Combine the yogurt, paprika, thyme, salt, pepper and garlic in a large bowl; mix well.  Coat the chicken with the mixture. (The chicken may be covered and refrigerated overnight or baked immediately.)  Prepare a shallow roasting pan or jelly roll pan with nonstick pan spray. Combine the bread crumbs and margarine in a shallow dish. Coat the chicken with the crumbs; place in the pan. 4. Bake breasts for 25 minutes, thighs for 30 to 35 minutes, or until tender.


Nutrition Facts per Serving (1 thigh or breast half):

Calories: 240; Fat: 8 g; Saturated fat: 2 g Cholesterol: 69 mg Sodium: 721 mg; Carbohydrates: 16 g;  Fiber: 1 g; Protein: 26 g


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