8 superfoods for seniors to support brain and heart health

Excerpt: Older adults who eat a variety of healthy, nutrient-dense superfoods promote better brain, heart, and muscle health. Preserve muscle strength and heart health with lean turkey, chicken and plant-based nuts and legumes packed with nutrients. Load up on vitamins, minerals and protective phytochemicals by digging into dark, leafy grains, brain-boosting colourful berries and immune-fighting citrus fruits, while boosting fibre with hearty whole grain-foods.


Thanksgiving isn’t a time to count calories. But why not add some healthy superfoods to your autumn harvest feast and include them as staples in your daily eating?

Older adults who regularly eat tasty, nutritious meals and snacks can be thankful for the many ways in which a variety of healthy foods nourish and protect brain, heart and muscle health,* says the Heart and Stroke Foundation.

As people get older, their appetites may not be as big, but it’s important to eat foods high in nutrients,* advises Dietitians of Canada. Superfoods aren’t about a single food that has the power to transform your health, but a varied combination of nutrient-dense foods that promote health and protect against disease.

Choose daily from a diverse and appetizing menu of healthy superfoods that can stimulate and satisfy your palate:

  1. Preserve muscle with heart-healthy poultry
    Chicken and turkey without the skin, lean meat and fish like salmon are excellent sources of muscle-building protein* that support brain and heart health too.

  2. Load up on nutrients with nuts and legumes
    Plant-based nuts like hazelnuts and walnuts, and legumes such as beans, chickpeas, green peas, and lentils, are rich alternative or supplementary protein sources,* advises Harvard Medical School. All are packed with vitamins and minerals, while nuts provide healthy mono- and polyunsaturated plant oils.*

  3. Dig into dark, leafy greens
    Dark, leafy green vegetables like spinach, asparagus, broccoli, kale, and romaine lettuce are good sources of vitamin A, vitamin C, and calcium, as well as phytochemicals* that protect against bacteria, viruses, and fungi.

  4. Brighten your plate with colourful berries
    Blueberries, strawberries, raspberries and other polyphenol-rich fruits like cherries, plums, and red and purple grapes protect brain cells by reducing inflammation and clearing toxic proteins that accumulate with age,* according to Medcan.

  5. Fortify fibre intake with whole grains
    Enjoy hearty whole-grain bagels, bread, cereals, brown rice, and pastas naturally high in fibre, which protect against heart disease, diabetes and certain types of cancer.*

  6. Boost immunity with citrus
    Refreshing citrus fruits such as oranges, grapefruit, lemon and lime are excellent sources of Vitamin C, which protects immune cells from damage caused by unstable oxygen compounds called free radicals, and boost production of immune cells that kill pathogens,* advises The Globe and Mail.

  7. Enhance bone and gut health with yogurt
    Consuming lower-fat yogurt, with no added sugar, helps build bones with calcium and protein, and promotes gut health with probiotics.*

  8. Enjoy mega benefits from healthy fats in fishEating fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, anchovies, sardines and trout provides healthy omega-3 fats, which help lower the risk of heart disease.*

Chartwell Retirement Residences offers residents nutritious, flavourful meals incorporating fresh, locally sourced ingredients in a warm, welcoming environment that makes healthy eating easy. Learn more on the website.

*The following sources are references for this in order of appearance:

1. Heart and Stroke Foundation. “Eat to stay healthy as you age.” (2020), online: https://www.heartandstroke.ca/articles/eat-to-stay-healthy-as-you-age

2. Dietitians of Canada. “Healthy aging for your brain.” (2019), online: https://www.unlockfood.ca/en/Articles/Seniors-nutrition/Healthy-aging-for-your-brain.aspx#:~:text=Vegetables%2C%20fruit%2C%20and%20whole%20grains%20are%20examples%20of,and%20improve%20brain%20function%20as%20you%20get%20older.

3. Heart and Stroke Foundation. “Protein.” (2020), online: https://www.heartandstroke.ca/get-healthy/healthy-eating/protein

4. Harvard Medical School. “Plant-based diet: Nuts, seeds, and legumes can help you get there. (2014), online: https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/plant-based-diet-nuts-seeds-and-legumes-can-help-get-you-there

5. Harvard Medical School. “10 superfoods to boost a healthy diet.” (2020), online: https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/10-superfoods-to-boost-a-healthy-diet-2018082914463

6. Lesliebeck.com. “Five brain-friendly foods to add to your diet.” (2016), online: https://lesliebeck.com/articles/2016/09/01/five-brain-friendly-foods-to-add-to-you-diet

7. The Globe and Mail. “What to eat to maintain an immune system-friendly diet.” (2020), online: https://www.theglobeandmail.com/life/health-and-fitness/article-what-to-eat-to-maintain-an-immune-system-friendly-diet/#:~:text=Like%20vitamin%20C%2C%20this%20antioxidant%20nutrient%20protects%20immune,safflower%20oil%2C%20almonds%2C%20hazelnuts%2C%20peanuts%20and%20peanut%20butter.

8. Dietitians of Canada. “How to choose the best yogurt.” (2018), online: https://www.unlockfood.ca/en/Articles/Grocery-Shopping/How-to-Choose-the-Best-Yogurt.aspx#:~:text=Yogurt%2C%20five%20ways.%201%201.%20Layer%20plain%20yogurt,the%20kids.%20Freeze%20yogurt%20with%20...%20More%20items

9. Dietitians of Canada. “Omega-3 fats deliver on oh mega benefits.” (2019), online: https://www.unlockfood.ca/en/Articles/Heart-Health/Omega-3-fats-deliver-Oh-Mega-benefits.aspx?aliaspath=%2fen%2fArticles%2fHeart-Health%2fOmega-3-fats-deliver-Oh-Mega-benefits