Nuts are some of the most nutritious whole foods you can eat, and they are a big part of a healthy diet. However, nut consumption isn’t nearly as high as it should be, despite studies that show a positive impact on everything from lowering cholesterol to metabolic benefits. The elderly can especially benefit from heart-healthy nuts and they provide plenty of vitamins and minerals, as well as protein. For those who plan the meals as part of elderly care, it’s a good idea to include these nutrient-dense foods more regularly.
There’s no doubt that nuts taste delicious but their impact on a healthy diet is amazing. For too long, people have mistakenly labeled nuts as fattening and too high in calories. As long as people stick to the recommended appropriate serving of 1.5 oz. per day, there’s no reason to worry. Most of the fat content in nuts is made up of unsaturated fat (that’s the good kind of fat), and they are an excellent source of dietary fiber. With calcium, potassium, magnesium and more, eating nuts is like taking a multivitamin with every bite. Nuts can be an important part of an elderly loved one’s diet, especially because they need nutrient-dense foods and often have trouble consuming enough calories in a day.
The good news is that it’s easy to add more nuts to any senior’s diet. From sprinkling them onto yogurt, pancakes and salads to eating them as a savory snack, nuts add a nutritional boost to any meal. Other ways to include nuts into a senior diet are:
- Add crushed nuts as a crust on grilled chicken or fish
- Bake them into muffins or bread
- Incorporated into desserts like brownies, cake and cinnamon rolls
- Put ground nuts into soups and smoothies
- Spread nut butters on toast or rolls
In no time, an elderly loved one will be able to enjoy nuts as a regular part of a healthy diet.
Of course, different nuts have varying nutritional values, so home care aides and family caregivers should pay attention to dietary needs when incorporating nuts into a senior’s meals. For example, pistachios, cashews and peanuts are lower in fat than walnuts, hazelnuts and pecans. However, hazelnuts, pecans and pistachios rank low on sodium while peanuts and cashews contain more. With so many varieties, seniors can enjoy a range of flavors and textures when nuts are added to their food.
There are a few things to keep in mind when serving nuts to seniors as part of an overall elderly care plan. All family caregivers and home care aides should learn whether the senior has a nut allergy, a condition that could even prove fatal in some cases. Also, because nuts are high in calories, if a senior is on a restricted diet of any kind, serving nuts may not be a good idea. As with any food, eating too much can also boost caloric intake so nut consumption shouldn’t exceed the recommended amount, which is approximately 25 nuts per day. Finally, some seniors may be suffering with chewing and swallowing issues, so the nuts should be prepared as appropriate. Outside of these issues, there’s no reason why seniors can’t benefit from consuming nuts regularly.
If you or an aging loved one are considering elderly care in Huntley, MT, please contact the caring staff at SYNERGY HomeCare today at 406-839-2390.