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3 Super Foods for Seniors

By Kathy N. Johnson, PhD, CMC

Recent long-term research studies have pointed to a number of essential nutrients that many seniors lack, but that are especially valuable for those who have a risk or history of heart disease, stroke or Alzheimer’s disease. Here are three “super foods” that are loaded with these essential nutrients. So go ahead and eat up!

Super Food #1: Salmon And Other Fatty Fish
Salmon and other cold water fish, such as tuna, sardines and mackerel, are low in calories and saturated fat, yet high in protein. Most important, these fish are rich in a unique type of health promoting fat, omega-3. Omega-3 essential fatty acid (DHA) optimizes levels of triglycerides which carry fat in your bloodstream, reducing the low density LDL (bad) cholesterol, while improving the high HDL (good) cholesterol that fights deposits in the arteries. There is strong evidence linking low levels of DHA to memory loss and other symptoms of dementia.

Super Food #2: Walnuts, Almonds And Other Nuts
Considerable scientific evidence suggests that eating one ounce per day of certain nuts, most notably walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts, pecans, pistachios, and peanuts, may reduce the risk of heart disease.  Although nuts are a higher-fat food, they are cholesterol-free. One handful of walnuts a day is all that is needed to meet the daily omega-3 dietary recommendation by the National Academies’ Institute of Medicine and also provides 35 percent of the RDA (recommended dietary allowance) for vitamin E. One study reported in the Journal of the American Medical Association suggests vitamin E may help protect people against Alzheimer’s disease.

Super Food #3: Carrots
Many studies have shown that people who consumed higher levels of vitamin A and other anti-oxidants over several years had substantially decreased levels of Alzheimer’s disease. This was even more pronounced among smokers. Another study links diets rich in four antioxidants—beta-carotene, vitamin C, vitamin E and zinc—to lower odds of losing eyesight proficiency during to old age. Nothing beats a carrot as a powerful source of beta-carotene (which your body converts to vitamin A).

"Many studies have shown that people who consumed higher levels of vitamin A and other anti-oxidants over several years had substantially decreased levels of Alzheimer’s disease."

One 7-1/2″ long carrot delivers 203% of the daily RDA for vitamin A. Broccoli and other vegetables are also high in vitamin A, but you would have to eat almost nine broccoli spears to equal the vitamin A in one carrot. Don’t over do it, though. More than three carrots a day will saturate the body’s ability to store vitamin A over a short time and can show up as an orange tint on the skin. Because many elderly may have difficulty chewing, it’s recommended to microwave or lightly steam vegetables to soften them while minimizing the loss of nutrients.

What are you waiting for? Take your loved one to the grocery store today and stock up on these super foods!