Eating healthy offers ample benefits at any age, and the importance of prioritizing nutrient-rich ingredients becomes even more essential later in life. As we age, our bodies begin to go through many changes. Metabolisms tend to slow down, muscle mass declines, and bones often become weaker. Fortunately, there are many foods that not only taste delicious but also keep your body performing at its best. Here are five “superfoods” to add to your diet to help you stay strong and thrive.
1. GREEN LEAFY VEGETABLES
Leafy greens like spinach, kale, and swiss chard are rich in vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E, and calcium. They’re top of the class when it comes to packing a mega-nutrient punch. They’re also an excellent source of fiber and can be enjoyed in a multitude of ways. You might sauté them with a bit of olive oil, salt, and pepper, add a few handfuls into pasta and soup, or simply enjoy raw in a tossed salad. Additionally, these vegetables support a healthy gut and digestive system, which has been proven to reduce psychological distress and improve overall mood.
2. SEEDS AND NUTS
Whether you like pecans, almonds, hazelnuts, or walnuts, nuts make a delicious snack that is high in plant protein and healthy fats. You don’t need to eat very many to enjoy their benefits. Because they’re so dense, even a small handful offers a high-calorie count. You’ve likely enjoyed peanut butter for years, but other nut butters have become increasingly popular. Almond and cashew butter, for example, taste great on crackers and sandwiches or mixed into oatmeal.
Seeds like chia and flax seeds are easy to add to meals and provide your necessary omega-3 fatty acids (a type of fat the human body can’t make on its own), which are important for your brain and cell health.
3. LEGUMES AND BEANS
We’re entering chili season, which means you’ll be in good company as you savor a bowlful of legumes like kidney beans, black beans, and red beans. Beans provide plant protein, fiber, and studies show they can reduce the risk of heart disease. You might also try eating hummus as a snack (made from garbanzo beans) or add a cup of peas to pasta or salad.
Berries come in a rainbow of colors and flavors and are rich in nutrients and antioxidants. Research from Tufts University has also found that eating them can slow cognitive decline. If in season, buy them fresh to add to cereal, yogurt, or oatmeal. Frozen berries are equally healthy and can be made into smoothies or thawed to enjoy however you desire.
5. WHOLE GRAINS
Whole grains come in many forms and have been shown to protect the body from heart disease and diabetes and provide fiber and many important B vitamins. Oatmeal and brown rice are classic examples of whole grains that are easily included within your daily diet. When shopping for bread or pasta, be sure to look for whole-grain versions. Just swapping white flour for a whole grain alternative will add more nutrients to your diet without making major changes.
A nutrition-rich diet is just one piece of maintaining a healthy lifestyle as we age. Remember to exercise, drink lots of water, and keep learning. Maintaining your health provides the foundation for continuing to thrive and enjoying all the wonders life has to offer.