Superfoods are everyday ingredients that are unprocessed and rich in nutrients. A lot of these popular foods today are being marketed towards younger and more physically active generations. However, many seniors are health-conscious individuals, too, who can benefit from eating these superfoods.
Why older people need superfoods
Aging brings about changing dietary requirements. The body goes through many internal changes like loss of muscle, declining bone density, and even stomach acid. Older people also generally have less physical activity, which means they’re expending less energy.
All of these factors combined, whether internal or external, lead to different nutritional needs. Older adults need to eat more nutritionally dense foods to fulfill daily requirements without exceeding their caloric intake. Otherwise, they might suffer from specific nutrient deficiencies and gain excessive weight that can be harsh on their joints.
However, following a balanced diet is easier said than done for the elderly. Studies show that malnutrition is evident in as much as 35% of people aged 65 and older.
This accounts for the inadequate intake of protein, calories, essential minerals, and vitamins. According to researchers, this prevalent health issue can be traced to various physical, social, and psychological factors, like limited income and reduced social contact.
Lack of access to nutritional education is also one of the main reasons behind this problem. Many senior citizens simply don’t understand that they should change the way they eat or even then, how to go about it. This is where families, nurses, and other caregivers should offer their guidance. And for those who don’t have these support systems, social workers are more than equipped to step in.
That's because degree programs in social work focus on serving the aging and retiring populations, as they are some of the most underrepresented parts of the community. Even better, those who study this subject will be part of an industry that is ever-expanding and will have grown by 16% in 2026. They will be able to help the seniors who don't receive the proper assistance they need at this stage of their lives and lack the information on how to fulfill their needs. Fortunately, some of the core competencies in social work include the proper assessment and intervention in the needs of certain communities. This includes evaluating the dietary requirements that are specific to the elderly.
But a good place to start is being mindful of the fact that eating healthy is an ingredient to a long and healthy life. These superfoods make it easy for anyone to stick to a nutritious diet:
Seven superfoods to start eating today
1. Apples are not only filling, but they’re also rich in powerful antioxidants and a range of vitamins and minerals. Most notably, apples are a good source of soluble fiber, which has been found to lower cholesterol levels in the blood.
2. Berries are a great option for a delicious low-calorie snack. Plus, studies have found berries to improve blood sugar levels. They’re also naturally sweet, which makes them a great substitute for chemically processed snacks.
3. Cinnamon is known for its anti-inflammatory properties. Given that many older people experience joint pain, which can be caused by chronic inflammation, adding a sprinkle of cinnamon to one’s daily breakfast can be beneficial.
4. Dark leafy greens include veggies like collard greens, kale, and Swiss chard. They’re very low in calories but are loaded with minerals like calcium, Vitamin K, and folate. These nutrients are key to maintaining bone density.
5. Fatty fish, like salmon and tuna, are a great source of protein. But compared to other meats, they contain omega-3 fatty acids that help maintain healthy cholesterol levels.
6. Greek yogurt makes for a filling mid-morning or afternoon snack. Compared to regular dairy yogurt, Greek yogurt contains fewer calories, less sugar and sodium, and more protein. A healthy serving can also supply as much as 20% of one’s daily calcium needs.
7. Oatmeal is one of the easiest and most versatile foods to prepare. It's known to help people control their weight and maintain healthy blood sugar levels.
Rachel Green is a consultant for wellness and nutrition. She holds degrees in nutrition and exercise science.