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Take advantage of summer’s bounty

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The hot and humid days of summer have arrived.  Soon your grocery store and farmers market will be filled with fresh, healthy fruits and vegetables, perfect for those times when cooking over a hot stove is less than appealing.

For the elderly, there are many benefits to eating fresh fruits and vegetables including increased energy, resistance to some diseases, faster recuperation from illness or injury, and better management of chronic health problems.    But a variety of different factors sometimes make it difficult for seniors to eat well, from changing taste buds to medication side effects, to a lack of interest in cooking for just one or two people. On top of that, older adults have different nutritional requirements. Though they require fewer calories, they need more protein, calcium, B vitamins, and other nutrients.

The new MyPlate for Older Adults, developed by Tufts University researchers, was designed to replace the USDA food pyramid.  It emphasizes the importance of bright colored vegetables including carrots, zucchini, summer squash and broccoli, as well as deep colored fruit such as plums, berries and melon – all readily available in July and August.  MyPlate also suggests eating foods high in water content to stay hydrated in summer such as lettuce, tomatoes, and watermelon.  The plate is divided into sections to illustrate that the average diet should contain 50% fruits and vegetables, 25% grains and 25% protein-rich foods such as lean meat, poultry, and low-fat milk and cheese.  Using MyPlate as a guide can help elders choose foods with a variety of different flavors and textures to make eating interesting and nutritious without added calories.  To learn more visit http://hnrca.tufts.edu/myplate/.

Choosing healthy foods for a well-balanced diet is never better than in summer.  Eating well can help you stay healthy – and look and feel good – for years to come.

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