Health Features

Eating Healthy as You Age

Spending more time at home during the pandemic has proven the importance of a healthy lifestyle. More time spent being sedentary and more nights ordering takeout may even reverse some of the effects of previous healthy behaviors, older adults included. It’s a good time to turn your thinking to healthier habits, and proper diet is the perfect place to start.

1. Aim for a salad a day.
Studies show that people who eat at least one serving of leafy greens each day may be less affected by cognitive decline.

2. Dig into dark-colored berries.
Dark varieties like blueberries and blackberries contain nutrients that combat inflammation and support brain health. A cup of blueberries a day for six months may even lower your risk of cardiovascular disease.

3. Try some green tea.
Replace soda and other sweetened drinks with green tea for its potential brain function benefits. Enjoying a warm cup of tea is also a great way to refocus and keep stress at bay.

4. Take advantage of avocado.
Substitute mashed avocado for half of the butter in your baking recipes, or swirl it into smoothies and spreads. Avocado is a good source of monounsaturated fatty acids, which are a healthier alternative to saturated fat and can help reduce LDL (‘bad’) cholesterol.

5. Enjoy a banana’s benefits.
The potassium in bananas may help offset the harmful effects of sodium on your blood pressure. Pair them with peanut butter, cereal, yogurt and more.

6. Put fruit at the front of your fridge.
As soon as you get home from the grocery store, wash your fresh fruit and place it in a bowl on the top shelf. Keeping it visible will remind you to eat more of it!

7. Reach for more veggies.
Do the same thing with vegetables—make them easy to grab. If you’re not big on the taste of veggies like carrots and zucchini, try dipping them in low-fat dressing.

8. The fiber is in the fruits (and vegetables).
Blend a banana, orange or fresh spinach leaves into a smoothie for a quick hit of fiber and other important nutrients.

9. Keep healthy snacks close at hand.
Put away the chocolate and other sugary sweets, and set out a bowl of dried fruit or nuts instead. Walnuts are a good source of fiber and omega-3 fatty acids. Pack individual servings in plastic bags for when you’re out and about.

10. Snack smartly in front of the TV.
Don’t bring a bag of potato chips or cookies to the couch; you may be tempted to eat too many without realizing it. Instead, grab a healthy snack.

11. Pick up organic produce.
Eating organic vegetables and fruits can lessen your exposure to pesticides. Organic items may offer greater nutritional benefits as well.

12. Always read the label.
Whole, natural foods are the most healthful, but when you do buy packaged items, look for ones that are lower in sodium, fat and added sugar.

13. Drink to your health.
Don’t forget to consume plenty of water during the day; it’s the best hydrator there is. Tea and coffee also are good options.

14. Grab a snack before you shop.
Before you head to the market—or even order groceries online—have a healthy snack so you’re not shopping on an empty stomach.

Sources: AARP, National Council on Aging

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