Eating Well = Aging Well

March 30, 2023

Genetics play a large part in determining our health as we age, but other factors can go a long way toward improving our health, such as exercising, taking care to reduce stress, and, of course, eating well. What we eat – or don’t eat – has a major influence on our overall wellbeing.

Put Color on Your Plate

It’s no surprise that colorful fruits and vegetables are important components of a healthy diet, due to compounds called antioxidants. Antioxidants help to trap and eliminate the free radicals (which can cause damage to organs) in the body. Try to “eat the rainbow” every day!


  • Blackberries, blueberries, plums, red grapes, raisins, red cabbage, eggplant
  • Health Benefits:  Memory function, urinary tract health


  • Oranges, apricots, cantaloupe, lemons, pineapple, squash, carrots, sweet potatoes
  • Health Benefits:  Heart health, vision health, immune function


  • Avocados, green apples, honeydew melon, kiwi, limes, artichokes, asparagus, broccoli, spinach, zucchini
  • Health Benefits: Vision health, strong bones and teeth


  • Tomatoes, watermelon, cherries, cranberries, beets, radishes, red potatoes, rhubarb
  • Health Benefits:  Heart health, memory function, urinary-tract health


  • Leeks, garlic, onions, bananas, cauliflower, mushrooms, parsnips, turnips
  • Health Benefits: Heart health, cholesterol control

Go for the Grain – Whole Grains, That Is!

Fiber can help to lower cholesterol, control blood sugar, maintain bowel function, and reduce gastrointestinal cancer risk. Ideally, we should aim to get 30-45 grams of fiber each day.

High fiber foods include:

  • Fresh fruits and vegetables
  • Legumes such as navy beans, garbanzo beans, kidney beans, lentils
  • Cereals with bran – 100% bran, raisin bran, bran flakes
  • Snacks such as popcorn and peanuts
  • Ground flaxseed, seaweed, wheat germ
  • A ½ cup of cooked kidney beans has 6 grams of fiber!

Don’t Forget Vitamin D

A lack of Vitamin D3 is thought to be a factor in many health problems, from inflammation to osteoporosis. Our bodies make Vitamin D when our skin is exposed to sunlight. Ten to fifteen minutes per day between the hours of 10am and 3pm on unprotected skin is all you need. However, increased time is necessary for those who are older, have darker skin, or are obese. And using sunscreen (which is a good thing!) or living in northern regions during the winter months means you probably don’t produce enough Vitamin D.

A person’s Vitamin D levels decrease with age, and it isn’t easy to get the amount needed from diet or sun exposure alone. If your doctor tells you that your D levels are low, consider taking a Vitamin D supplement. In the meantime, you can boost your Vitamin D intake by consuming fatty fish, mushrooms, and fortified dairy, juice, and cereal products.

Go Easy on Fats

Fats add flavor to food, and our bodies need some fats to transport fat-soluble vitamins such as A, D, E, and K. Fats are also essential for your skin, nervous system, and brain health. But, we all know that too much fat is not good! Choose healthy mono-unsaturated fats – olive oil, canola oils, peanut, and sesame oils, and watch for “hidden fats” in foods.

Skip the Salt

Some salt, or sodium, is essential, but too much is hard on your heart and kidneys.  Your body needs a very small amount of salt daily.  The American Heart Association recommends 2,500mg of sodium, about one teaspoon per day, or 500-600mg per meal. However, Americans’ average salt intake is 5,000mg, mostly from processed foods. 

  • Always taste food before salting.
  • It is easy to adjust to lower sodium – slowly reduce the amount and flavor of foods come alive!
  • Experiment with different spices for flavor without added sodium.
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