Eating Well With Kim: Shopping for Older Americans

By: Kim Beavers Email
By: Kim Beavers Email
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Once I had a poster that said, “Start each day with a song in your heart."

Frequently, one-liners in songs make me laugh, smile or think of life situations. Today’s song one-liner is: “I’m growing older but not up, my metabolic rate is pleasantly stuck."

This is a good ole Jimmy Buffet song lyric, although I must say I don’t think it pleasant that my metabolic rate is stuck! However, the fact remains that as we get older, our nutrient needs stay the same (or go up in some cases) and our calorie needs go down. With that in mind, it is wise to be prudent at the grocery store and make the healthiest choices possible. Below are the nutrients many older Americans fall short on.

Fiber:
The 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend a fiber intake of 14 grams per 1,000 calories or about 21 grams for women and 30 grams for men over 50 years of age. Foods that are considered good sources of fiber contain 3-5 grams of fiber per serving and high-fiber foods contain 5 or more grams per serving. Increase fiber gradually over a few weeks, which allows your digestive system to adjust to the change.

It is key to drink plenty of fluid (preferably water) when increasing fiber in your diet because fiber will work best when it absorbs water.

Some high-fiber foods to add to your diet include:

  • Bran Flakes
  • Whole grain bread and pasta
  • Apples, kiwis and strawberries
  • Beans

Calcium:
Adults over 50 should consume 1,200 mg of calcium per day. Calcium-rich foods include non-fat milk, low-fat yogurt, reduced fat cheese, broccoli, salmon and leafy green vegetables. Food labels can be tricky, however, because they list calcium as percent daily values instead of milligrams. The FDA sets the daily value of calcium at 1,000 mg. Foods considered good sources of calcium contain 20 percent or more of the DV. However, if your requirement for calcium is above 1,000 mg, you are getting a slightly lower percentage than listed on the food label.

Calcium is important to consume in an effort to maintain strong bones and prevent osteoporosis.

Equally important in bone health is the intake of vitamin D. Great sources of calcium are:

  • Milk, yogurt, cheese, cottage cheese
  • Greens
  • Salmon with bones

Vitamin D:
The recommended Dietary Allowance for vitamin D for adults ages 19-70 is 600 international units (IU). For adults over the age of 70, the RDA is 800 IU. The body makes vitamin D when the sun shines on skin. But with age, the skin does not make as much vitamin D from sun exposure and intake from food sources becomes more important. Food sources of vitamin D include fortified dairy products and cereals and fish such as tuna, salmon, swordfish and mackerel. There are also small amounts in egg yolks.

Eat More Fruits and Vegetables:
Always great advice regardless of life stage. However it is particularly helpful as we age because fruits and vegetables are nutrient dense yet also low in calories. Many older adults complain about wasting food especially produce because they cannot eat the entire amount prior to it going to bad. A great solution for this is to use frozen fruits and vegetables. They require minimum cooking and you can use just what you need and save the rest for another use---no waste at all!

Here is a link to some additional good information on healthy living and growing older.

In addition, remember we have a great resource in our local Area Agency on Aging. Give them a call to find out if any of the services they offer can meet your needs at (706) 210-2000.


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