What kind of diet is the most appropriate in maintaining the health of senior citizens?
No single food provides all the nutrients we need, so we must include a variety of foods in our diet. The Eatwell Guide describes the foods commonly eaten and their recommended proportions to ensure a balanced and healthy diet. Eating five or more pieces of fruit and vegetables a day can help prevent heart disease and cancer.
Vegetables and fruit are full of minerals, vitamins, and fibre and are low in fat. There are many types to choose from, including fresh, frozen, dried, and tinned. It is advisable to pick fruit tinned in juice rather than syrup and vegetables in water instead of brine. It is also wise to eat plenty of foods rich in starch and fibre like bread, rice, potatoes, and pasta.
These are all excellent sources of energy, fibre, and B vitamins and must be used as the basis for all meals. Select higher-fibre, wholegrain types such as whole wheat, pasta, brown rice, or simply leave the potatoes’ skins. As well as being low in fat and very high in fibre, they are excellent sources of other vital nutrients – protein, vitamins, and minerals.
Dairy foods like milk, yogurt, and cheese are essential sources of calcium, vitamins A, D, and B12, protein, and fat. Calcium is needed to build strong bones and for nerve and muscle function. Vitamin D is required to absorb calcium and plays a crucial part in strengthening bones.
Try to choose low-fat options such as semi-skimmed or skimmed milk, cottage cheese, Edam cheese, or half-fat cheddars. Milk puddings and milk in sauces are a great way to get enough calcium. Skimmed milk contains as much calcium as whole milk.
Beans, lentils, and peas are healthy alternatives to meat because they are naturally shallow in fat and high in fibre, protein, and minerals.
Other vegetable-based proteins and meat substitutes are widely available in most supermarkets. Eggs are a suitable alternative to meat and are incredibly versatile. You can scramble, boil, poach or make it into an omelet. Adults are advised to eat two portions of fish every week, one of which needs to be oily. Like salmon, mackerel, and pilchards, tinned fish contain many omega 3 fatty acids and are suitable for heart health.
Meat is a fantastic source of protein, vitamin B12, and iron. A diet rich in iron will prevent iron deficiency anemia. Processed meats and chicken products must be limited as they are high in fat and salt and lower in iron. In dealing with processed meat products such as chicken nuggets or burgers, it’s best to grill or bake on a rack instead of frying them.