As we age, our bodies become less efficient at absorbing important nutrients and vitamins. However, you can help keep your senior loved one healthy and strong by including some nutrient-dense vegetables as a regular part of his or her diet. The staff at Home Care Assistance, a leading provider of elder care in Summit, discusses 5 vegetables that contain a wealth of benefits for seniors.
1. Leafy Greens
Spinach, kale, and turnip greens are rich in folate, carotenoids, vitamin C, and vitamin K, nutrients that can boost your loved one’s immune system. Leafy greens can also enhance your loved one’s mental health. A large-scale study published in Annals of Neurology found senior women who ate leafy greens on a regular basis had less cognitive decline than those who didn’t eat them, and a 2015 study by Rush University found similar results. Researchers believe vitamin K is primarily responsible for the cognitive benefits.
When eaten with their skin intact, potatoes are high in potassium. Potassium is responsible for keeping bones strong, helping cells function properly, and stabilizing blood pressure levels. Because too much potassium can pose problems for your loved one’s heart, it’s important for him or her to get the daily recommended 4,700 milligrams through food sources rather than supplements.
3. Summer Squash
Rich in vitamin A, magnesium, and vitamin C, summer squash can help your loved one keep his or her heart healthy. Low magnesium levels are associated with high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart attack, and diabetes, but summer squash provides an impressive 33 mg of magnesium per serving. Try steaming or roasting the squash rather than boiling it to ensure your loved one isn’t losing too many minerals in the cooking process.
4. Cruciferous Vegetables
Cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, and cabbage can help reduce pain and inflammation for seniors who have arthritis. They also contain high amounts of the compound sulforaphane, which has been found to block an enzyme that destroys cartilage in the joints and exacerbates arthritis. A 2014 study published in Preventive Nutrition and Food Science found broccoli also contains compounds that can reduce the inflammation that causes arthritic pain.
The carotenoids found in carrots can help prevent macular degeneration, a disease that can lead to blindness. A study conducted by researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health followed 102,000 adults over the age of 50. Those who ate the highest levels of carotenoids were less likely to develop macular degeneration.
If your loved one needs help maintaining a healthy diet, a live-in or part-time caregiver in Summit can help prepare meals and go grocery shopping. At Home Care Assistance, we consider diet an important part of living a long and healthy life. Alongside other lifestyle factors like exercise and mental stimulation, a healthy diet is a major component of our proprietary Balanced Care Method (BCM), an evidence-based program designed to promote longevity. For more information on BCM and our other in-home care services, call a friendly Care Manager today at 908.450.9400.