The advice you've likely given kids applies to you, too: Eat your fruits and vegetables! Colorful and nourishing, they're mostly nutrient rich and provide plenty of phy-tonutrients. Along with their many health-promoting benefits, their fiber can help overcome constipation. Their potassium may help counter the effects of sodium on blood pressure, and their antioxidants may provide anti-aging properties that may reduce disease risk.
Chewing problems? That's no reason to give up fruits or vegetables. Make "softer" choices: perhaps ripe bananas, baked or steamed squash, cooked peas, sliced peaches, baked sweet or baking potatoes, cooked spinach, stewed tomatoes, or steamed cauliflower.
Concerned that fresh produce might take a bite out of your pocketbook? Buy seasonal fruits and vegetables, when they typically cost less. And stock up on canned and frozen fruits and vegetables, and dried fruits, when they're specially priced. Canned and frozen fruits and vegetables offer convenience, especially for housebound adults. If you or someone you're caring for needs a special diet, talk to a registered dietitian about buying these foods. Use the Nutrition Facts on food labels, too. Some canned vegetables and frozen vegetables with sauces contain added salt and added sugars. Plain, frozen vegetables and no-salt-added canned vegetables may be better choices for a low-sodium diet. Canned fruit in natural juices and frozen fruit without added sugars may be better choices for "carb"-controlled eating.
As in younger years, mature, healthy adults are urged to keep their overall food choices low in saturated fats, trans fats, and cholesterol, and to moderate total fat intake. Remember that a gram of fat supplies more than twice the calories that a gram of either carbohydrate or protein does, so watching your fat intake is one approach to eating more nutrient-rich foods and balancing your calories for weight control. Limiting fat, trans fat, saturated fat, and cholesterol may also be part of managing risk factors for heart disease and other chronic health problems.
MyPyramid is meant for healthy people. If you have diabetes, high blood pressure, or other health problems (or if you're at risk for them), your food and nutrient needs may differ. Get advice from a registered dietitian or your doctor. Refer to chapter 22, "Smart Eating to Prevent and Manage Disease."
Protein: An Issue for Some
Protein: you still need it! If you follow advice from the Meat and Beans Group of MyPyramid, you're likely consuming enough protein. So what's the issue?
Some older adults don't consume enough protein-rich foods. Sometimes meat or poultry are hard to chew and swallow, so they may be left on the plate. Other people may have trouble digesting milk, another good protein source. Those with limited finances might avoid meat, poultry, or fish because they often cost more than many other foods.
Emerging research suggests: Eating somewhat more protein as you age may help you retain muscle mass as you become more sedentary. How can you get enough high-quality protein?
See "Protein Power" in chapter 20.
Calcium: As Important as Ever
Why is calcium still so important? Calcium plays a primary role in keeping your bones healthy and so
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