According to the Research Institute for Aging (RIA), most older adults are not consuming enough key nutrients to stay healthy. The best way to get the nutrients our bodies need is through the foods that we eat, not vitamin pills--that’s why it’s important to choose foods that are nutrient-dense or rich in protein, fibre, vitamins and minerals.
“As you age, your body changes, and so do the nutrient requirements you need to stay healthy,” said Heather Keller, Schlegel Research Chair in Nutrition and Aging at the Schlegel-UW Research Institute for Aging and University of Waterloo.
Here are a few nutrient-dense foods recommended by the RIA, that can be added to recipes or enjoyed on their own.
Add them to salads, granola, trail mix, or as a topping for desserts; to sauces, bread, or as a topping for yogurt or cereal. Almonds are a great source of vitamin E – a powerful antioxidant that is also important for the health of your brain and eyes. Other vitamin E-dense foods: sunflower seeds, peanut butter, wheat germ (or wheat germ oil) and avocado.
Dark chocolate (at least 70%) is loaded with magnesium and iron. Magnesium is important for your muscles, keeps your heart beating daily and your immune system strong. Iron helps to preserve many vital functions in the body, including energy and focus, and carries oxygen to all of the body.
Add wheat germ to yogurt, oatmeal, meatballs or meatloaf, smoothies, muffins, granola, or toppings for parfaits. Wheat germ is a great source of omega-3, an essential nutrient for immune function, and bone, muscle, and heart health. Omega-3 has been shown to help prevent heart disease and stroke, and may play protective roles in cancer and other conditions. Wheat germ is also loaded with fibre and vitamin E.
These seeds can easily be added to baked goods such as muffins, breads or loaves; or as a topping on yogurt, salads or cereal. Flax seeds contain a lot of fibre – a nutrient crucial for our digestive health and regular bowel movements. It also helps us feel fuller for longer, and can improve cholesterol and blood sugar levels. Omega-3 is also found in flax seeds.
Lentils and beans
Add lentils and beans into meals through rice dishes, tacos, chili and more--a great source of protein, fibre and iron. Protein is crucial to maintain muscle mass and strength, brain health, helps repair your body after an injury, and isn't taken in enough in older adults.
For healthy aging recipes developed by the RIA research team, visit