Vitamins and minerals are vital to maintaining a healthy life, especially as we age. Eating meals with fresh fruits and vegetables, along with meat or legumes is essential for a well-rounded diet.
“As we get older, it’s really important we maintain our lean muscle mass, making sure we’re getting enough protein in our diet,” said Lauren Stark, Registered Dietitian and Manager, Nutrition Services at Kaiser Permanente Washington. “You also want to make sure you’re getting enough Vitamin D and calcium in your diet.” Milk and yogurt are good sources of calcium to keep bones healthy.
Vitamin B12 is important for keeping your nerve and blood cells healthy and boosting your energy. You can get this in plenty of foods you may already have at home, including chicken, fish, eggs, tofu, and legumes. Beans contain plenty of nutrients whether they be fresh, frozen, or in a can (with no salt added).
Buying fruits and vegetables that are in season ensures they have plenty of flavor and is cost-efficient. Right now, berries are in season and are great additions for salads and smoothies. In-season vegetables include tomatoes, broccoli, zucchini, lettuce, green beans, and bell peppers, which are all high in vitamins.
There are plenty of recipes available online if you are unsure how to cook up your fresh produce. Kaiser recently partnered with Donna Moodie, the owner or Majorie Restaurant in Capitol Hill, for a live cooking demonstration where she made lemon herb chicken and a seasonal salad. It's a great quick and easy recipe because all the items can be found at your local grocery store -- and leftovers can easily be reinvented into other meals like tacos, wraps, sandwiches, and soups. The video is currently available to watch on their Facebook page:
If seniors don’t feel comfortable going to farmer's markets or grocery stores right now because of COVID-19, many senior service organizations offer group meal programs. Depending on the program, meals are either delivered or can be picked up in a safe environment.
Kaiser recently pledged $500,000 to support senior service organizations that provide delivered meals to vulnerable seniors.
“We’re so proud to support those senior centers right now because it’s such a vulnerable population,” Stark said.
Learn more about Kaiser's five senior meal assistance programs: