Including plenty of vegetables in a senior’s diet is important for optimal health. However, some vegetables may be even healthier than others. Kale and onions may not seem like the obvious choices, but they contain a wealth of nutrients that can help boost your elderly loved one’s health. Fort Myers elder care experts explain how.
Kale has been shown to:
- reduce the risk of age-related eye disease
- ease arthritic knee pain
- protect against heart disease and stroke
- ward off osteoporosis
- reduce cholesterol
- lower blood pressure
Kale is loaded with antioxidants. Protectors against cellular damage, these compounds are abundant in kale’s frilly leaves. Lutein and zeaxanthin are antioxidants the eyes can benefit from. According to the American Optometric Association, eating kale deters cataracts and age-related macular degeneration (AMD). It also prevents eye injury from the sun’s ultraviolet light.
Cataracts are protein clumps that cloud the lens and prevent light from entering the eye. AMD causes degradation of the retina, tissue at the back of the eye that converts light into nerve messages. Both of these chronic eye diseases can cause vision loss in people over 65. If your loved one already has cataracts or AMD, the National Eye Institute claims lutein and zeaxanthin boost vision even if these eye conditions already exist. Since the body can’t manufacture these antioxidants, it’s vital to consume them in food.
If your loved one experiences knee pain, lutein and zeaxanthin can also help relieve knee inflammation caused by osteoarthritis. Lutein prevents thickening of coronary arteries, reducing the risk of heart disease and stroke, and the vitamin K in kale wards off osteoporosis. Kale’s fiber also helps lower cholesterol and blood pressure. Chopping raw kale releases its antioxidants, and light steaming preserves its nutrients.
Onions are known to:
- diminish arthritic pain
- reduce diabetes risk
- decrease the risk of blood clots, heart attacks, and strokes
- lower cholesterol
- prevent osteoporosis
Onions are high in flavonoids, plant pigments with antioxidant properties. Quercetin is especially potent because it can reduce arthritic inflammation. The chromium in onions regulates blood sugar, and the sulfur triggers insulin production. A 2010 study in Environmental Health Insights showed diabetic subjects had lower glucose levels over a 4-hour period after eating red onions.
If you are concerned about your loved one’s cardiovascular health, the sulfur in onions is a natural blood thinner, preventing clot formation. According to a 2002 study in Thrombosis Research, onions lessen blood pressure. Quercetin prevents the arterial hardening that leads to heart attacks and strokes, and eating raw onion can lower cholesterol.
The Surgeon General reports roughly 35 percent of postmenopausal women have osteoporosis of the spine, hip, and forearm. However, eating onions can increase bone density. A 2009 study in Menopause found daily onion consumption lowers the risk of hip fracture by 20 percent.
Although all types of onions are beneficial for seniors, shallots and yellow onions contain the most flavonoids, and red onions are rich in quercetin. Flavonoids are most concentrated in the outer layers of onion. After removing the skin, peel off as little of the fleshy leaves as possible.
Kale and onions are just two of the many vegetables that can help your loved one live a healthy life. If you’d like additional information on senior nutrition, reach out to Home Care Assistance. We are a leading provider of stroke, Parkinson’s, and Alzheimer’s care in Fort Myers, and our caregivers are available 24/7 to help with meal prep, grocery shopping, and much more. To learn more and to request a free consultation, call 239.449.4701 today.