Eating foods rich in antioxidants can have benefits for seniors. According to the National Institutes of Health, antioxidants are man-made or natural substances that may prevent or delay some type of cell damage. People who eat a diet with a variety of fruits and vegetables get many health benefits, as well as antioxidants, from their foods. Antioxidants are also available in over-the-counter supplement form. However, most recent studies have shown that these high-dose supplements do not help prevent diseases such as cancer or heart disease. In fact, they may actually be harmful.
Seniors should always consult their physicians when considering the use of supplements, which sometimes react negatively with medications they may be taking. There are differences in the chemical compositions of antioxidant supplements versus those found naturally in foods. There are some health benefits to be gained from getting antioxidants through our regular diet. The following are some of the benefits provided by antioxidants and the foods that supply them.
Reduce Oxidative Stress
Oxidative stress is an imbalance between free radicals and antioxidants. Too many free radicals can negatively impact the way the body functions. Antioxidants help remove excess free radicals that may contribute to chronic health conditions. Studies have shown that antioxidants may support better mental health, cognitive function, immune health, and prevent cellular damage. Researchers are still studying these complex relationships. Foods rich in antioxidants include blueberries, strawberries, pomegranates, kale, beets, and green tea.
Improve Eye Health
Antioxidants may help reduce the risk of developing age-related macular degeneration, the most common cause of permanent vision loss in older people. Vitamins C and E, which are antioxidants, can slow the progression of cataracts. Foods that are high in vitamin C include citrus fruits, tomatoes, strawberries, red and green peppers, kiwi, and broccoli. Foods rich in vitamin E include avocados, almonds, sunflower seeds, wheat germ, sunflower oil, and safflower oil. Beta-carotene is another antioxidant that is beneficial to eye health. It’s the reddish orange pigment found in certain fruits and vegetables like carrots, tomatoes, sweet potatoes, winter squash, and cantaloupe.
Lycopene is an antioxidant that provides anti-inflammatory benefits similar to ibuprofen. This may help with pain reduction. Lycopene also provides some skin protection that may reduce skin cancer risk. Excellent sources of lycopene include spaghetti sauce, tomato sauce, tomato paste, pink grapefruit, and watermelon.
How Renaissance Villages Can Help
Eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables is the best strategy to ensure the body gets adequate amounts of antioxidants. Seniors living alone are often unable to meet their basic dietary needs. Residents at Renaissance Villages enjoy healthy, balanced meals prepared by chefs and served in our restaurant style dining room. Healthy snacks and hydration are provided daily. Our care staff is trained to meet the needs of residents and remove the stress associated with changes in health or care needs. Contact us today for more information.