9 Best Foods For Seniors To Start The Day With
As the body attempts to offset a decline in physical activity and resting metabolic rate, older adults may experience a loss of appetite. While a natural part of aging, decreased appetite can lead to excessive weight loss and frailty.
To prevent nutrient deficiencies and other health problems, seniors may need to supplement their meals with nutrient-rich snacks. As a caregiver, you can help your loved one start their day off right with these ideas for healthy foods for seniors:
When discussing nutrition tips for seniors, specialists tend to stress the importance of proteins—particularly plant-based ones. Critical for building and maintaining muscle mass and strength, a protein-rich diet is especially important for seniors. Nutritionists tend to recommend dietary protein derived from plants like beans and leafy greens because they are more easily absorbed by the body.
To incorporate more healthy, plant-based proteins into your loved one’s diet, try supplementing their morning meals with these snacks:
- Green smoothies. Quick, tasty, and slurpable, smoothies are an excellent vehicle for introducing more nutrients into your senior’s morning meal plan. Try whipping up a smoothie with spinach or kale, with banana, almond butter, chia seeds or hemp seeds, and add almond or cashew milk.
- Nut and seed butters. For seniors with difficulty chewing, try pairing nut and seed butters—such as almond or sunflower seed butter—with sliced banana or yogurt.
- Hummus. Blended from chickpeas and sesame paste, this traditional middle eastern spread is a flavorful source of plant-based protein. For a healthy morning snack, spread hummus on toast and top with avocado and tomato.
Despite decades of being villainized as a dietary enemy, fats play an important role in bodily functions like nutrient absorption and energy storage. As a caregiver to an elderly adult, your challenge is to select “good” fats for your senior while steering clear of the “bad” ones.
Healthy or good fats typically include monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. Associated with a wide range of health benefits, these fats can help reduce LDL cholesterol, regulate blood sugar, and enable the body to absorb certain key nutrients.
Bad or unhealthy fats, on the other hand, generally include trans fats. Often listed on nutrition labels as “partially hydrogenated oils,” these fats can raise cholesterol and increase a senior’s risk of developing heart disease and stroke.
When designing a morning meal plan for your senior, stick to good fats like avocado, olive oil, eggs, and fish while avoiding processed foods. For ideas, check out these heart-healthy, high-fat morning snacks:
- Avocado on toast. Top whole-wheat toast with sliced or mashed avocados. This unique fruit is high in monounsaturated fats as well as fiber, vitamins, and antioxidants.
- Hard-boiled eggs. In addition to being a good source of healthy fats, hard-boiled eggs are packed with protein and other key nutrients.
- Smoked salmon on crackers. Salmon is rich in healthy fats and protein. For a senior-friendly breakfast snack, try topping whole-grain crackers with cottage cheese, smoked salmon, and tomato.
Like fats, carbohydrates are sometimes demonized as unhealthy. However—also like fats—carbs are a vital component of a balanced diet. A primary macronutrient, carbs are one of the body’s main sources of energy.
As a rule of thumb, complex or whole carbohydrates make a better dietary choice for seniors. Compared to simple carbs like juice, candy, and white bread, complex carbs are higher in fiber and keep you full longer without causing spikes and dips in blood sugar levels. Whip up snacks with complex-carb-rich, healthy foods like fruits, veggies, and whole grains, such as:
- Baked sweet potatoes. Sweet potatoes are a versatile snack loaded with fiber and nutrients. Sprinkle baked sweet potatoes with cinnamon for a sweet and simple mid-morning snack.
- Fruit and cheese. Serve strawberries, pear, apple, or a senior’s favorite fruit with cheese for a snack that combines protein with complex carbs.
- Old-fashioned blueberry oatmeal. Serve oatmeal with fresh or frozen blueberries with a pat of butter. Skip instant oats and go for old-fashioned, steel-cut oats, which can help the body stay fuller for longer.
The foods we eat in the morning can affect our energy, mood, and cognitive function for the rest of the day. As a caregiver, you can help your senior loved ones meet their nutritional needs and fuel up for a positive day ahead by serving nutrient-dense morning snacks.
Do you have any go-to healthy morning snacks you enjoy serving your senior? Share your favorite recipes in the comments below!