Superfoods for Seniors

superfoodsWhat are superfoods? We hear about them in the news as being something we should consume on a regular basis. Why and what are they?

Superfoods are loaded with nutritional value and contain powerful antioxidants. Antioxidants fight against free radicals that cause damage to cells. They are important for seniors because they reduce the risk of common health conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, inflammatory diseases and even cancer.

Antioxidants also help boost the immune system and can actually slow the aging process. Many types of foods are considered superfoods, but some in particular – including one spice – are especially beneficial for seniors.

The Superfoods

Tomatoes reduce the risk of heart disease, prostate cancer and digestive tract cancers. They can also improve bone health. Lycopene, which is the pigment responsible for a tomato’s red color, helps eradicate cancer-causing free radicals in the body. Lycopene has also been linked to a decreased risk of osteoporosis in women.

Green tea not only reduces the risk of certain cancers, it also improves brain function, reduces inflammation and reduces the risk of depression and diabetes. Furthermore, green tea has long been an ancient anti-aging secret among people in China and Japan.

Consuming red wine has several surprising benefits including reducing the risk of heart disease. Red wine can improve good cholesterol (HDL), blood clotting and has anti-aging properties. It also can promote a lowered risk of tooth decay and gum diseases as well as the risk of osteoporosis. If on medication, be sure to consult a physician before adding red wine to your diet since mixing alcohol and medication can be dangerous.

Another heart-healthy food is dark chocolate, which can reduce the risk of diabetes and improve brain function.

Pomegranates are considered a cure for menopausal hot flashes, gastric irritation, conjunctivitis and viral infections such as the flu.

Beans and peas are loaded with antioxidants, vitamins and minerals that exhibit anti-inflammatory properties. Good examples include chickpeas, kidney beans, lentils, black beans and red beans.

Cinnamon is a “super spice” and helps decrease the risk of heart disease and diabetes, lowers bad cholesterol levels, and has anti-inflammatory and medicinal properties. It can also help regulate blood sugar by improving sensitivity to insulin. Additionally, even just smelling the aroma of cinnamon boosts cognitive processing and visual motor responses.

As far as antioxidant properties, blueberries have been ranked as possessing one of the highest antioxidant properties of all fruits and vegetables.  They are a rich source of dietary fiber. Blueberries are also a potent source of vitamin C in that one serving meets 25 percent of the daily required needs. In addition to improving brain function and reducing the risk of heart disease, diabetes, and cancer, blueberries enhance the immune system and help prevent urinary tract infections. One study suggests that blueberries hinder the formation of tumor cells.

All of these super foods can be found in your local grocery store or food market.