Nutrition for Seniors - Geriatric Nutrition

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                        World's Top 10 Diets

Food NameSodiumCholesterolSaturated Fat 
Milk, human17142.0
Milk, cow's, fluid, whole40101.9
Milk, cow's, fluid, whole, low-sodium3142.2
Milk, calcium fortified, cow's, fluid, whole40101.9
Milk, calcium fortified, cow's, fluid, 1% fat4450.6
Milk, calcium fortified, cow's, fluid, skim or nonfat5220.1
Milk, cow's, fluid, other than whole ("lowfat")4260.8
Milk, cow's, fluid, 2% fat4181.3
Milk, cow's, fluid, acidophilus, 1% fat4450.6
Milk, cow's, fluid, acidophilus, 2% fat4181.3
Milk, cow's, fluid, 1% fat4450.6
Milk, cow's, fluid, skim or nonfat, 0.5% or less butterfat4220.1
Milk, cow's, fluid, filled with vegetable oil5723.1

Nutrition Guidelines from the National Institute of Aging

Food provides the energy and nutrients you need to be healthy. Studies show that a good diet in your later years reduces your risk of osteoporosis, high blood pressure, heart disease and certain cancers. As you age, you might need less energy. But you still need just as many of the nutrients in food. To get them

  • Choose a variety of healthy foods
  • Avoid empty calories, which are foods with lots of calories but few nutrients, such as chips, cookies, soda and alcohol
  • Pick foods that are low in cholesterol and fat, especially saturated fat.

Problems with Food Associated with Aging

As you grow older, your sense of taste and sense of smell may change. Foods may seem to have lost flavor. Also, medicines can change how food tastes. They can also make you feel less hungry. Talk to your doctor about whether there is a different medicine you could use. Try extra spices or herbs on your foods to add flavor.

As you get older, you might not be able to eat all the foods you used to eat. For example, some people become lactose intolerant. They have symptoms like stomach pain, gas, or diarrhea after eating or drinking something with milk in it, like ice cream. Most can eat small amounts of such food or can try yogurt, buttermilk, or hard cheese. Lactose-free foods are available now also. Your doctor can test to see if you are lactose intolerant.

Is it harder to chew? Maybe your dentures need to fit better, or your gums are sore. If so, a dentist can help you. Until then, you might want to eat softer foods that are easier to chew.

Sodium Dietary Requirement and Hypertension

"The body’s requirement for sodium is very low — only 220 milligrams a day — but the average American consumes more than 3,400 milligrams daily. The current Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend a maximum of 2,300 milligrams (about a teaspoon of salt) for people over age 2, but only 1,500 milligrams for the 70 percent of adults at high risk of sodium-induced illness: people older than 50, all African-Americans, and everyone with high blood pressure, diabetes or chronic kidney disease."

If you are over age 50, about 2/3 of a teaspoon of table salt — 1500 milligrams (mg) of sodium — is all you need each day. That includes all the sodium in your food and drink, not just the salt you add when cooking or eating. If your doctor tells you to use less salt, ask about a salt substitute. Some contain sodium. Also, don't add salt during cooking or at the table, and avoid salty snacks and processed foods. Look for the word sodium, not salt, on the Nutrition Facts panel. Choose foods labeled "low-sodium." Often, the amount of sodium in the same kind of food can vary greatly between brands.

"High level of sodium in the diet raises blood pressure and the risk of chronic hypertension by stiffening arteries and blocking nitric oxide, which relaxes arteries. Hypertension, in turn, contributes to heart disease and stroke, leading causes of death.

Institute of Medicine Report on US Sodium Intake

Americans consume unhealthy amounts of sodium in their food, far exceeding public health recommendations. Consuming too much sodium increases the risk for high blood pressure, a serious health condition that is avoidable and can lead to a variety of diseases. Analysts estimate that population-wide reductions in sodium could prevent more than 100,000 deaths annually. Without major change, hypertension and cardiovascular disease rates will continue to rise, and consumers will pay the price for inaction.

How to use our food database to select foods optimal for old age

This food database provides the sodium, cholesteroal and saturated fat contents of approximately 7,000 food items. A food's mineral and vitamin contents are displayed in charts to allow easy evaluation of its nutrition. You can use these vitamin and mineral charts to choose the most nutrient-dense foods and avoid foods with empty calories.
In addition, the calorie pie chart shows the contribution of fat, carb and protein to the food's total calorie. If you wish to choose low-sodium or low-cholesterol or low-saturated fat foods, you can sort foods by contents of these nutrients. Click on the nutrient column header to sort and click again to reverse the current sort order.

Usage Note

  • Sodium and cholesterol values are in milligrams and calculated per 100g of food.
  • Saturated fat values are in grams and calculated per 100g of food.
  • Click on column header to sort foods by name or by sodium, cholesterol or saturated fat content.
  • Pie chart shows relative contributions to total calories from carbohydrate, protein and fat (and alcohol, if exists).
  • The mineral and vitamin charts show the relative contents of minerals and vitamins of each food. The higher the bubble, the higher mineral or vitamin content a food has relative to other foods. The larger the bubble, the greater the mineral or vitamin content relative to the Recommended Daily Allowances.

100 Least Nutritious Foods

The 100 foods in the following list contain mostly empty calories with few nutrients.

Foods with Mostly Empty Calories Calories

Sweeteners, tabletop, fructose, dry, powder 368

Sugars, granulated 387

Sugar, turbinado 399

Sugars, powdered 389

Sweeteners, for baking, contains sugar and sucralose 398

Strawberry-flavor beverage mix, powder 389

Desserts, rennin, vanilla, dry mix 383

Orange-flavor drink, breakfast type, powder 386

Candies, gumdrops, starch jelly pieces 396

Candies, hard, dietetic or low calorie (sorbitol) 394

Tea, instant, sweetened with sugar, lemon-flavored, without added ascorbic acid, powder 401

Tea, instant, sweetened with sugar, lemon-flavored, without added ascorbic acid, powder, 385

Sugars, brown 380

Candies, hard 394

Tea, instant, sweetened with sugar, lemon-flavored, with added ascorbic acid, powder 385

Lemonade-flavor drink, powder 379

Whiskey sour mix, powder 383

Lemonade, powder 378

Sweeteners, for baking, brown, contains sugar and sucralose 388

Chewing gum 360

Puddings, lemon, dry mix, instant 378

Chewing gum, sugarless 268

Puddings, tapioca, dry mix, with no added salt 369

Puddings, tapioca, dry mix 369

Drink mix, QUAKER OATS, GATORADE, orange flavor, powder 388

Frostings, vanilla, creamy, dry mix 410

Candies, jellybeans 375

Apples, dehydrated (low moisture), sulfured, uncooked 346

Puddings, vanilla, dry mix, regular 379

Foods with Mostly Empty Calories Calories

Carob-flavor beverage mix, powder 372

Candies, fondant, prepared-from-recipe 373

Puddings, banana, dry mix, regular 366

Puddings, vanilla, dry mix, instant 377

Puddings, banana, dry mix, instant 367

Puddings, vanilla, dry mix, regular, with added oil 369

Frostings, chocolate, creamy, dry mix 389

Puddings, lemon, dry mix, regular 363

Flan, caramel custard, dry mix 348

Candies, taffy, prepared-from-recipe 397

Cornstarch 381

Sweeteners, tabletop, sucralose, SPLENDA packets 336

Candies, MARS SNACKFOOD US, SKITTLES Sours Original 401

Fruit-flavored drink, powder, with high vitamin C with other added vitamins, low calorie 227

Sugars, maple 354

Candies, MARS SNACKFOOD US, SKITTLES Original Bite Size Candies 405

Candies, MARS SNACKFOOD US, SKITTLES Tropical Bite Size Candies 405

Candies, MARS SNACKFOOD US, SKITTLES Wild Berry Bite Size Candies 402

Pectin, unsweetened, dry mix 325

Candies, butterscotch 391

Puddings, lemon, dry mix, regular, with added oil, potassium, sodium 366

Sweeteners, tabletop, saccharin 360

Candies, divinity, prepared-from-recipe 364

Puddings, banana, dry mix, instant, with added oil 386

Fruit-flavored drink, dry powder, low calorie, with high vitamin C 200

Tapioca, pearl, dry 358

Puddings, banana, dry mix, regular, with added oil 387

Arrowroot flour 357

Candies, gum drops, dietetic or low calorie (sorbitol) 162

Candies, caramels, chocolate-flavor roll 387

Candies, TOOTSIE ROLL, chocolate-flavor roll 387

Foods with Mostly Empty Calories Calories

Snacks, candy bits, yogurt covered with vitamin C 415

Fruit-flavored drink, dry powdered mix, low calorie, with aspartame 217

Babyfood, juice treats, fruit medley, toddler 347

McDONALD'S, Honey 351

Noodles, chinese, cellophane or long rice (mung beans), dehydrated 351

Puddings, all flavors except chocolate, low calorie, regular, dry mix 351

Snacks, fruit leather, rolls 371

Snacks, fruit leather, pieces, with vitamin C 373

Snacks, GENERAL MILLS, BETTY CROCKER Fruit Roll Ups, berry flavored, with vitamin C 373

Puddings, all flavors except chocolate, low calorie, instant, dry mix 350

Syrups, table blends, corn, refiner, and sugar 319

Frostings, glaze, prepared-from-recipe 341

Puddings, coconut cream, dry mix, instant 415

Snacks, fruit leather, pieces 359

Candies, MARS SNACKFOOD US, STARBURST Fruit Chews, Tropical fruits 409

Candied fruit 322

Snacks, SUNKIST, SUNKIST Fruit Roll, strawberry, with vitamins A, C, and E 342

Candies, MARS SNACKFOOD US, STARBURST Fruit Chews, Original fruits 408

Candies, MARS SNACKFOOD US, STARBURST Fruit Chews, Fruit and Creme 408

Honey 304

Cranberries, dried, sweetened 308

Vermicelli, made from soy 331

Candies, fudge, vanilla, prepared-from-recipe 383

Agave, dried (Southwest) 341

Puddings, coconut cream, dry mix, regular 434

Candies, YORK BITES 394

Candies, marshmallows 318

Candies, MARS SNACKFOOD US, STARBURST Sour Fruit Chews 400

Candies, NESTLE, AFTER EIGHT Mints 432

Toppings, marshmallow cream 322

Syrups, corn, dark 286

Foods with Mostly Empty Calories Calories

Syrups, corn, light 283

Gerber graduates Fruit Strips Real Fruit Bars 330

Sweeteners, tabletop, fructose, liquid 279

Syrups, corn, high-fructose 281

Cream substitute, flavored, powdered 498

Dates, medjool 277

Syrups, sorghum 290

Molasses 290

Snacks, candy rolls, yogurt-covered, fruit flavored with high vitamin C 359

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