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Foods that can help seniors stay healthy

January 23, 2014

Diets play a key role in a healthy lifestyle for seniors. There are several common foods that can help contribute to healthy living, most of which can even reduce the risk for contracting life-threatening illnesses such as heart disease, diabetes and forms of cancer. Several newly published reports chronicle the health benefits these foods can provide.

Nuts help you live longer
According to a recently released study conducted by The New England Journal of Medicine, daily nut consumption can lead to a decreased risk for contracting a wealth of chronic diseases, including heart disease, diabetes and cancer. Researchers concluded that participants who consumed a handful of mixed nuts at least once a day were 20 percent less likely to obtain these health problems. 

In addition to helping fight off the risk of disease, scientists found that eating nuts can contribute to healthy aging, keeping the skin glowing and healthy. They also found that despite the common belief that these foods can lead to weight gain, participants who ate nuts on a daily basis were measured to have smaller waists, lower weight gain and a reduced risk of obesity.

Mayo Clinic created a list of the seven nuts that are healthiest for seniors, which included walnuts, peanuts, almonds, pecans, pine nuts, pistachios and Brazil nuts. These nuts, ripe with antioxidants that help protect against illness, possess other beneficial qualities, including increased joint and heart health.

Foods that reduce cataract risk
A group of Swedish scientists recently published a study in JAMA Ophthalmology that found women who consumed antioxidants had a 13 percent decreased risk for contracting cataracts. The study, which looked at the diets of more than 30,000 middle-aged and older women, found that those with the higher intake of antioxidants had better ophthalmological health. These women were observed for seven years, with scientists looking closely at their risk of developing cataracts.

Susanne Rautiainen, lead researcher, recommended colorful foods, stating that they were most likely to contain the highest levels of antioxidants. Additional foods that contain high amounts include coffee, tea, red wine and whole grains.

Tomatoes may reduce risk of breast cancer
The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism published a study that found postmenopausal women who consumed a tomato-rich diet had a 9 percent increase in their levels of adiponectin, the hormone that helps regulate blood and sugar. An increase in this hormone led to a decrease in women's chances of developing breast cancer.

Scientists emphasized that regular consumption of fruits and vegetables would produce the same hormone and improve overall health, but tomatoes proved to have the highest effect.