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Healthy Dinner Menu for Seniors

By Jordan Saibil

As people age, their dietary needs change. While the main principles of healthy eating apply to all individuals at any time and at any age, seniors have less room to be flexible, and it becomes more essential to eat foods that will increase energy and mental acuity and decrease foods that could cause heart and other health issues to develop.

Protein

Protein is a must for keeping muscles strong, supplying much-needed energy to keep you agile. According to HelpGuide.org, seniors need about half a gram of protein per pound of body weight, so a 140-lb. woman needs 70 grams protein a day, for example. Spread throughout the day, that's about 25 grams for dinner, which can come in the form of a 3 to 4 ounce piece of chicken, a similar-sized portion of tuna, or two eggs with 1 ounce of cheese.

Grains

Grains provide most of the carbohydrates in your diet, a necessary source of energy. They also have many vitamins and nutrients, such as vitamin B, and are often fortified with others, such as folic acid. The National Institute on Aging advises eating 5 to 10 ounces of grains a day; a healthy dinner will include a small roll or a half a cup of rice or brown pasta. It's highly recommended to go for whole grains, which provide fiber for your diet as well.

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Fruits and Vegetables

Fruits and vegetables supply all sorts of vitamins and minerals in your diet, as well as fiber. The rule is to choose a rainbow of colors to keep your menu healthy by including dark greens, bright oranges and yellows, and intense reds. A nourishing dinner menu will include a salad with a cup of spinach and a half-cup of mixed peppers and tomatoes. A half-cup of berries or a medium-sized apple are optimal desserts.

Calcium

Calcium becomes more important as you age by keeping bones strong and preventing osteoporosis or fractures. One cup of milk will do the trick at dinnertime, or you can substitute that with a cup of yogurt. A cup of cottage cheese fills in for half of the requirement and can also take the place of your protein allotment. The National Institute on Aging recommends you choose the low-fat versions, as fats should be consumed only minimally.

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