A healthy diet can go a long way in helping seniors stay strong, vibrant, and energetic for years to come. The right foods can even help older adults reduce the risk of developing chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and dementia.
Seniors looking to reap these benefits would do well to include a variety of fruits, vegetables, and healthy grains into their regular diet. Researchers have pointed to plant-based diets to maximize nutrient intake and positive impacts on senior health. Some seniors may want to become vegetarians and completely avoid eating meat. Others are curious about adopting a vegan diet, which omits all animal products from meals.
A plant-based vegan diet focused on whole foods can provide benefits to older adults. They may need to supplement with vitamins such as B12 to compensate for nutrients not found in fruits and vegetables. That being said, seniors don’t have to be completely vegan to gain the benefits of this diet. They can also choose to integrate foods commonly found in plant-based vegan diets.
Keep reading to learn about some great vegan-friendly foods that can boost senior health!
Tofu for Seniors
Tofu is a great soy-based vegan food for seniors looking to stay healthy and consume enough protein. It is one of the best sources of protein among vegan foods and contains about 8 grams of protein per 100 grams. It is also very high in calcium, which can be very beneficial for seniors looking to keep their bones strong while reducing the risk of fractures and arthritis.
Tofu can be a good replacement for meats such as chicken, beef, or pork thanks to its protein content and satiating effects. Some studies have even found that soy foods like tofu might help prevent memory loss and cognitive difficulties in older adults.
Leafy Greens and Senior Health
For seniors looking to maximize nutrient density in their foods, leafy greens should be at the top of the list. That’s because leafy greens such as broccoli, lettuce, and kale are loaded with all the nutrients seniors need to function properly, such as potassium, iron, calcium, and vitamin A. They are also very high in antioxidants and beneficial for cognitive health. Leafy greens are also full of fiber that can help balance blood sugar levels, provide energy, and keep bowel schedules normal.
Beans and Legumes
In addition to tofu, beans, and legumes are also great sources of protein for seniors interested in vegan foods. Beans, peas, and lentils are great sources of nutrition for seniors looking to boost their protein and fiber intake regularly.
These foods also provide much-needed iron, vitamin C, and fiber to help keep bowel movements and digestion processes regular. Kidney beans, black beans, and soybeans are all great options for seniors interested in adding more beans to their diet. Legumes such as peas, lentils, and chickpeas are also wonderful vegan foods for seniors to consume.
Whole Grains for Seniors
Whole grains also offer wonderful vegan options for seniors looking to stay healthy. This is because whole grains have been linked to slower cognitive decline, less inflammation, improved metabolism, and many other health benefits. Some examples of whole grains include oatmeal, whole-grain toast, whole-grain pasta, and whole-grain cereal.
Seniors should integrate three or more servings of whole grains into their diet each day. Grains that have all three parts of their original kernel are considered “whole grains”. This includes the starchy endosperm, the fiber-rich bran, and the germ - in their original proportions.
Vegan Foods for Seniors - Conclusion
In conclusion, there are so many wonderful and delicious vegan foods for seniors to choose from. Integrating protein and calcium-rich foods such as tofu can make it easier for older adults to maintain muscle mass and keep their bones healthy. Leafy greens such as broccoli and kale can provide a variety of important vitamins and minerals necessary for their bodies to function at optimal health.
In addition, beans, legumes, and whole grains can provide more options and benefits to ensure seniors are eating a well-rounded diet that focuses on their nutritional needs. Although not every senior may want to commit to a fully vegan diet, even incorporating some vegan foods into their meals can provide lots of benefits.