Graceful aging is about enjoying a long and healthy life, full of time spent doing the things we enjoy with the people we love. It’s about quality of life just as much as longevity. While aging may not be top of mind, it’s never too early (or late) to take charge of your health. In fact, the sooner you begin to maximize your health through lifestyle change, the greater your chances of preventing chronic diseases, like cancer and diabetes, that may threaten your ability to live life to the fullest.
How to Age Gracefully
We spoke to Registered Dietitian, Bianca Tamburello, to learn more about strategic ways to support graceful aging through food and nutrition. Tamburello said, “Lifestyle habits like limiting alcohol, not smoking, and regular physical activity all greatly decrease chances of developing many chronic conditions.” She says, “But diet is particularly important. It’s probably no surprise that a diet full of mostly vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and high-quality protein proves to be most effective in healthy aging.” She adds, “There are certain nutrients and foods that can play a particularly important role in health.”
What Foods Should I Eat for Graceful Aging?
High-quality protein and omega-3 rich foods like salmon.
Eating protein is important to build muscle and prevent muscle loss. As we age, this is especially helpful in maintaining mobility and strength for simple, everyday tasks. Tamburello recommends choosing fatty fish at least twice each week. “Fatty fish, like salmon, offers up hard-to-find vitamin D, for bone health, and omega-3 fatty acids. I recommend salmon from Chile, because it is especially high in omega-3 fatty acids and low in mercury. Omega-3 fatty acids are important in preserving brain function and may even help decrease risk of Alzheimer’s disease.” Do you find cooking fish tricky? Check out the videos here to perfectly prepare salmon.
High-calcium foods like dark leafy greens and dairy.
Dairy is the calcium food that may come to mind, but dark leafy greens are a great source of calcium, too, and count as a vegetable serving toward the goal of 2.5 vegetable servings per day. Tamburello recommends choosing dark leafy greens because they have the added benefit of phytochemicals that can help fight inflammation associated with certain chronic diseases. Leafy greens high in calcium include kale, collard greens and spinach. Pair these greens with vitamin C-rich foods, like lemon juice, to increase calcium absorption. When choosing dairy foods such as yogurt, cheese and milk for calcium, the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends choosing low-fat and nonfat dairy for all people 2 years and older.
High-fiber foods like beans and legumes.
“A high-fiber diet has many benefits including helping to keep cholesterol down, something that many Americans struggle with for heart health. Fiber-rich foods can also help maintain healthy weight, promote regularity and support blood sugar control,” says Tamburello. Beans and legumes are stellar sources of fiber, plant-based protein, vitamins and minerals. Additionally, beans and legumes contain antioxidants, which protect the body from harmful, disease-causing substances that may accelerate age-related conditions.
Make the Healthy Choice, the Easy Choice
Age gracefully by making the healthy choice, the convenient choice to maintain consistency. Tamburello recommends, “Buy individually wrapped portions of Chilean salmon filets for easy thawing and fast cooking. Look for washed and cut kale instead of whole kale or choose low-sodium canned beans over dry.” Following a consistent, balanced diet over time is one of the best ways to prevent disease for happy and healthy aging.
For more information about salmon and nutrition, visit chileansalmon.org.