As we age, our bodies develop different dietary needs. From an increased need for key nutrients and vitamins C, D, and B, elderly need to get adequate nutrition from a well-balanced diet to stay healthy.
While good nutrition is essential at any age, the aged are at a higher risk for osteoporosis, heart disease, cancers, and high blood pressure.
Blood sugar also increases with age, putting seniors at an increased risk for Type 2 Diabetes, which can be fatal.
To minimize these risks, elderly members of our family should eat healthy snacks throughout the day to improve their overall health.
Eating the following snacks at different times throughout the day will help the elderly to stabilize their blood sugar between meals as well as maintain energy levels.
Early morning snacks
Nutritional Value (100 grams – 1/2 cup): 59 calories, 3.6g carbohydrates, 0g fiber, 17g protein, 0.4g fat, 3.2g sugar
Scoop 1/2 cup greek yogurt in a bowl, and top with soft fruit, seeds, nuts, or granola (if able), for added flavor and crunchiness.
For seniors who have poor dentition or a swallowing impairment, yogurt is a good source of protein and calcium. Greek yogurt or whole-milk yogurt is recommended over fat-free yogurt that usually contains added sugar and artificial ingredients.
Low-carb, on the other hand, is suitable for the elderly with diabetes so they can keep blood sugar under control. Yogurt also has probiotics that contain good bacteria for gut health.
Oatmeal with blueberries
Nutritional Value (100 grams each): 125 calories, 26g carbohydrates, 4.1g fiber, 3.1g protein, 1.7g fat, 10.5 g sugar
Combine 1/2 cup of old-fashioned oats with water or milk. Microwave for just over a minute. Top with blueberries.
Old-fashioned oats are one of the healthiest and most affordable breakfast foods. Oats are not only easy to chew, but they have a long shelf-life, so seniors know they always have something around to eat when they need it.
This combination of foods can help aid constipation and dehydration in older people, and the blueberries have antioxidants that not only promote optimal health but can satisfy a sweet tooth.
Snacks with breakfast
Nutritional Value (100g – 2 large eggs): 165 calories, 1.2g carbohydrates, 0g fiber, 12g protein, 10g fat, 0.6g sugar
Whisk two eggs in a bowl or crack directly onto the pan. Cook on medium-low heat for about 8 minutes. For added flavor, a spoonful of cottage cheese or light sour cream can be added before scrambling.
Protein is found in every single cell of the body. It is responsible for speeding up chemical reactions that regulate the body’s tissues and organs. It also carries oxygen in the blood.
Cells do not function and duplicate that well with age, which affects the functioning of every organ in the body, so the elderly need to get substantial amounts of protein.
Eggs are a complete protein source and are also full of healthy fats.
Avocado with toast
Nutritional Value (1 slice toast, 1/2 avocado, 1 pinch sea salt): 237 calories, 21.4g carbohydrates, 8.6g fiber, 6.1g protein, 15.8g fat, 2.1g sugar
Slice avocado in half (leave the half with the pit in an air-tight container until next day). Scoop the other half of the avocado onto a slice of whole-grain toast.
Avocados are not only easy to chew, but they are a superfood filled with healthy fats. Most people, especially seniors, don’t get enough potassium in their diet.
Avocados contain high amounts of potassium, which is linked to reduced blood pressure. High blood pressure increases the risk of strokes, heart attacks, and kidney failure.
Snacks with lunch
Nutritional Value (8 oz – 1 small cup): 90 calories, 20g carbohydrates, 0g fiber, 3g protein, 0g fat, 18g sugar
Blend fresh or frozen fruit with milk or water, add yogurt, spinach, and any additional supplements such as chia seed, flaxseed meal, or acai powder.
The best part about this snack is that aging people can make any combination they would like depending on dietary need or taste preference of their own.
While spinach is optional, it offers seniors a superfood boost. Smoothies are easy for seniors to drink and do not require any chewing if blended well.
Nutritional Value (100g turkey – 2 slices, 1 oz. cheese – 1 slice): 293 calories, 1.1g carbohydrates, 0g fiber, 34g protein, 16g fat, 0.6g sugar
Take two slices of turkey and wrap around a piece of cheese.
Most elders do not get the protein they need, so it is helpful to have this simple snack around that is jam-packed with this essential macronutrient. Just one roll-up contains over 30 grams of protein.
Light snacks in the evening
Cottage cheese with flax seed and cinnamon
Nutritional Value (100g cottage cheese – 1/2 cup, 7g ground flax seed – 1 tbsp.): 135 calories, 5.4g carbohydrates, 1.9g fiber, 12.3g protein, 7.3g fat, 2.8g sugar
Scoop 1/2 cup of cottage cheese into a bowl and top with 1 tbsp. of flax seed and a dash of cinnamon.
Cottage cheese is an excellent option to get the protein from cheese but without the extra fat. The protein from the cheese will help produce red blood cells that transport antibodies for a healthy immune system and promote tissue repair for seniors recovering from injury or surgery.
Flax seeds contain the Omega-3 fatty acid ALA known to promote heart health. Cinnamon is beneficial for controlling diabetes because it increases insulin activity.
Sliced tomato with feta cheese and olive oil
Nutritional Value (40g tomato -2 medium slices, 1 oz. feta, 1 tbsp. Olive oil): 202 calories, 2.8g carbohydrates, 0.2g fiber, 4.2g protein, 20g fat, 1.7g sugar
Slice tomato into quarter-inch thick slices. Place two slices onto a plate; the rest can be stored for the next day or two. Coat with 1 tbsp. of olive oil and sprinkle with feta cheese.
Tomatoes are not only low in calories, but they have a high water content, that can help seniors stay hydrated.
Elderly people are at higher risk for heart disease and certain cancers, tomatoes are an essential snack because they contain the antioxidant lycopene known to reduce these risks.
Not to mention, they contain potassium that helps in regularizing heartbeat, folate for red and white blood cells, vitamin C for healthy cells, and vitamin K, which plays a vital role in blood clotting.
Snacks with dinner
Mashed potatoes with 2% milk
Nutritional Value (242g potatoes – 1 cup, .07 oz. milk – 1/4 cup): 338 calories, 36.2g carbohydrates, 3.1g fiber, 13.6g protein, 7.5g fat, 2.5g sugar
Boil potatoes, then mash once softened. Mix in 1/4 cup milk and blend until smooth and creamy.
While this snack may take some more time to prepare, seniors can skip the most challenging part, peeling the potatoes!
Leaving the skin will provide more fiber to their diet, promoting lower cholesterol, regular bowel movements, and a healthy weight.
Baked sweet potato chips
Nutritional Value (10 chips): 152 calories, 17g carbohydrates, 2g fiber, 1g protein, 10g fat, 3g sugar
Slice sweet potatoes very thin, place on a baking sheet, and drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle with kosher salt and bake at 300 degrees for 20-25 minutes.
Sweet potatoes contain magnesium and potassium, which are good for heart health and regulating blood pressure.
Celery with hummus
Nutritional Value (40g celery – 1 medium stalk, 30g hummus – 2 tbsp.): 56 calories, 5.2g carbohydrates, 2.8g fiber, 1.2g protein, 1.4g fat, 1g sugar
Cut one stalk of celery into desired sizes—dip in hummus of choice.
Hummus is not only sugar-free, but it is tasty and nutrient-dense. Hummus is made from chickpeas that are high in fiber to help lower cholesterol and prevent overeating.
Whole grain popcorn with nutritional yeast
Nutritional Value (3 oz. popcorn – 1 cup): 63.5 calories, 6.4g carbohydrates, 2.1g fiber, 3.1g protein, 2.6g fat, 0g sugar
Cook kernels over medium heat in a saucepan with oil. Cover the pot and wait for kernels to pop.
Popcorn is one of the easy snacks for the elderly to get whole grains in their healthy diet. It is known to reduce heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
Nutritional yeast is used in making vegan cheese, provides a nice cheesy and nutty flavor in addition to potassium, calcium, and phosphorous.