You may already know that grains are essential for a healthy diet, but have you ever wondered whether you’re eating the right ones? Whole grains are the complete package when it comes to improving your health, especially for seniors, which is why it’s important to start incorporating them into your daily diet.
Whole grains contain three parts: the bran, the germ, and the endosperm. The bran and germ help keep your body healthy, your skin glowing and your hair shiny which is very important as we age. The endosperm contains carbs and proteins. Eating refined or highly processed food only provides your body with the benefits of the endosperm.
As you get older, you may feel a lack of energy. Whole grains are a natural energy booster since they contain vital sources of B-vitamins as well as numerous trace minerals like iron, magnesium, copper, and zinc. They are also rich in nutrients like fiber, which helps regulate healthy bowel movements as well as heal the gut. The list doesn’t end there. Here are some more benefits of consuming whole grains for seniors:
Check the nutritional value on the back of the packaging. Foods that are whole-grain will show higher nutritional content in vitamins, minerals, and fiber than refined grains. Whole-grain foods are also much denser in texture and have a shorter shelf life than processed grains. Common whole grain foods include:
Watch out for common phrases like multigrain, 100% wheat, cracked wheat, organic, pumpernickel, bran, and stone-ground. While these terms sound healthy, they don’t indicate the product is actually whole-grain.
Color is also not a reliable way to base whether a product is whole-grain. Molasses or other ingredients are often added to food to give it that nice brown color. Seniors should search for foods that are high in fiber and low in sugar to increase the chances of purchasing whole-grain products.
For those 55 or older, aim at making at least half of your daily grains whole grains by switching out highly processed foods with whole-grain variations. Examples of this include:
You can also combine whole-grain foods with refined grains you’re used to until your palate has adjusted to the whole grains. A good goal is to aim to make at least half of a day’s grains whole grains.
Here at Independence Village, we believe in creating healthy, delicious meals for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Begin experiencing the benefits of whole grains by scheduling a lunch or dinner tour at one of our Independence Village communities.
Kelley Cox, MS, RD, CSG is the director of Nutrition for Independence Village and StoryPoint. As part of the culinary team, Kelley ensures nutritional menu standards are met for all licensed neighborhoods and provides guidance to our chefs in developing healthy menu options for all residents.
Kelley holds a Bachelor of Science in dietetics and a Master of Science in human nutrition from Eastern Michigan University and has been a registered dietitian since 2010. She is a board-certified expert in gerontological nutrition.