The Asbury Perspective

Six Senior Super Foods

Posted in: Aging Well

As we age, our caloric needs decrease as we lose muscle mass and our metabolism slows. That doesn’t mean our nutritional needs decrease, though. Take a look at the following six super foods that will help boost brain power, digestion and nutrition. 

And as a wellness director for Inverness Village, a continuing care retirement community in Tulsa, I have to share the importance that daily physical activity also has in staving off muscle loss and other aging declines, including cognitive. In 2014, our community created a wellness event centered around Dan Buettner's Blue Zones research into the world's oldest and healthiest populations. Not surprisingly, people in these zones are physically active and follow this plant- and whole grain-heavy diet.

A note: if you are buying processed foods, check the sodium content. The daily recommended amount is 1,500 milligrams – and one teaspoon of salt has 2,400 milligrams. This is more important given a 2015 blood pressure study showing that reducing systolic pressure to less than 120 can cut the risk of heart attack, heart failure and stroke by almost one third. Systolic pressure is the first number cited in a blood pressure reading.

1. Cruciferous and root vegetables. 
Broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage and cauliflower belong to the cruciferous family and are rich in anti-oxidants that have been linked to reducing cancer risk. Beets and sweet potatoes are high in cancer-fighting compounds, fiber and important vitamins, minerals and nutrients.

2. Legumes.
Eat your beans for fiber, complex carbohydrates, B vitamins, iron (which helps carry oxygen in the blood) and other important nutrients. Just one cup of black beans gives you half your daily recommended fiber intake. Inexpensive and filling, legumes really are a super food.

3. Whole grains.
Avoid white rice and flour, which increase blood sugar levels, in favor of barley, steel-cut oats, brown or wild rice and other whole grains. They are rich in fiber and contain B vitamins, iron, magnesium and selenium.

4. Omega 3 fatty acids.
These oils, found in salmon and other oily fish, walnuts, flax seed, canola and soybean oil, reduce inflammation in the body and are linked to improved cognitive functioning.

5. Celery.
While it’s not the most exciting of vegetables, celery is nevertheless rich in luteolin, a compound that helps calm inflammation in the brain, a primary cause of neuro-degeneration, according to scientists. 

6. Spinach.
Popeye was on to something. Spinach is rich in nitrates, which are converted to nitrites in your mouth. These help increase blood flow and oxygen to the brain. Studies have also linked the nutrients in spinach to the prevention of cancer cell and tumor growth.

Jana Scavona

Submitted by Jana Scavona

Jana is the Director of Wellness for Inverness Village, an Asbury continuing care retirement community in Tulsa, Okla.

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