Dietary choices important for seniors

Nutrition plays a key role in the health and well-being of people of every age, but eating the right foods may be especially important for seniors. A well-balanced diet is a crucial component of healthy senior living, and adhering to a smart menu can considerably increase their chances of staving off many of the disease most commonly associated with aging. However, it can be more complicated than just adding variety to one’s diet. There are certain nutrients and substances that are cornerstones of a healthy diet for seniors, and it’s critical that both older adults and their caregivers pay attention to them.

Omega-3 fatty acids
It’s almost impossible to discuss a healthy diet without first giving some attention to omega-3 fatty acids. These nutrients have been lauded as some of the healthiest substances there are, and many studies have suggested that their benefits range from protecting brain health to maintaining optimal heart function. In fact, according to the Mayo Clinic, omega-3 fatty acids can lower blood pressure, reduce blood clots, boost immunity and alleviate arthritis pain. It’s no wonder it’s critical that caregivers tasked with meal preparation focus on this nutrient.

There are many different ways to add omega-3 to one’s diet, but one of the most well-known routes is through fish such as salmon and tuna. According to, there are many other sources of omega-3 including flaxseed oil and leafy green vegetables.

Calcium and vitamin D
Maintaining bone health for seniors is essential, and calcium and vitamin D are arguably the two most important nutrients that can help them do just that. In fact, a recent study from Aarhus University Hospital in Denmark found that seniors who took vitamin D supplements as part of a high-calcium diet reduce their mortality risk. Luckily, there are many viable sources of both calcium and vitamin D. According to The Huffington Post, kale, oranges and oatmeal are all high in calcium, while foods fortified with vitamin D, such as cereals, orange juice and soy milk, are the healthiest sources.

Low sodium
A diet that’s too high in sodium can result in a number of significant health issues. In addition to elevating blood pressure levels, those who eat too much salt run the risk of developing heart disease and kidney problems. With that in mind, it’s imperative that seniors and caregivers go to great lengths to monitor the amount of salt included in their meals. There are a number of ways for caregivers to reduce the amount of sodium in their loved ones’ diets, according to the University of California, San Francisco. For instance, using creative seasonings such as herbs, spices and lemon, can provide a unique alternative to salt. It’s also important to opt for home-cooked meals rather than pre-made choices, because they’re lower in sodium.

While water may not be a nutrient-rich food, it is of the utmost important to senior health, and being well hydrated is something that can sometimes go overlooked by the caregiving population. Seniors are often more prone to dehydration than the younger population, and they might not be able to recognize the symptoms of dehydration as easily. Along with being at a greater risk for dehydration, the results are often exacerbated in seniors, as evidenced by increased mortality rates and greater risk at hospitalization. Experts recommend seniors drink between six and eight glasses of water each day.