Nutrition & Health for Older Americans, By Kristine Van Workum, Registered Dietitian

Did you know May is known as Older Americans Month? It’s true! May 25, 2011 celebrates the 18th annual National
Senior Health & Fitness Day. The goal of this annual event is to help keep older Americans healthy and fit. This
year’s theme is “Make Fitness a Goal for Life.”As a registered dietitian, I defer specific questions on fitness/exercise
guidelines to qualified exercise professionals & trainers. However, for guidelines on eating well throughout our
lifetime and as we age, here are a few things to consider:

• Stay well hydrated! As we age, our thirst mechanism can decrease, causing us to feel less thirsty and
therefore drinking less often. Keep a water bottle with you and try to consume 64 oz of total fluids per day.

• Choose high quality proteins. As we age we tend to lose muscle mass, so in addition to staying active, we
also need to eat protein to help preserve our muscle mass. Create well-balanced meals which include
protein foods such as low-fat dairy foods, Greek yogurt, lean meats (beef, pork, chicken & turkey), fish, eggs,
nuts and beans/legumes.

• Increase fruits & veggies, herbs & spices, as well as Omega-3 fatty acids. Planning adequate amounts of
healthy fats, lean proteins and high fiber carbohydrates/whole grains can help us stay healthy. The following
foods & examples below have also been shown to help decrease inflammation in our bodies:

1. Fruits & Vegetables – the more colorful and more variety, the better. These foods are rich in antioxidants
and phytochemicals which have a protective affect on our bodies. Refer to a unique salad recipe below
for one way to introduce more produce into your diet!

2. Omega 3 Fatty Acids – salmon and fatty fish, avocados, canola oil, walnuts, and flaxseed are some of
the most commonly eaten foods which contain these heart healthy fats.

3. Spices – ginger, garlic, rosemary, turmeric, oregano, cayenne, clove, nutmeg, etc. Spices are a great
way to add flavor to your food without adding salt or extra calories.

4. Dark Chocolate – dark chocolate is high in antioxidants and also contains fiber. A dark chocolate
Hershey’s Kiss is only ~26 calories, so enjoy this treat in moderation!

5. Salicylic Acid – Foods high in salicylic acid include: berries, grapes, broccoli, spinach, chili peppers,
cinnamon, ginger, rosemary, nutmeg, sage, basil.

6. Olive Oil – healthy source high in unsaturated fats, but if used in cooking, keep temperature below 325°F
(smoke point) to keep the greatest nutrient benefits and prevent flavor breakdown.

For more information on National Senior Health & Fitness Day, visit You can also
get tips to help prevent cancer and/or recurrence on the American Institute for Cancer Research website:

Happy Senior Day and Happy Eating!
Kristine Van Workum, LifeShape Registered Dietitian & owner of Brevard Nutrition

Strawberry Cucumber Salad with Almonds and Mint

  • 1/3 cup slivered almonds 3 cups diced English (seedless) cucumber, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons seedless strawberry preserves/jam 1 cup sliced fresh strawberries
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil 2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
  • 2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard Lettuce for serving (ie. Bibb, Romaine, or red leaf)

Directions: Place almonds in a small, dry skillet and cook over medium heat 3-5 minutes, until almonds are golden
brown; shake the pan frequently to prevent burning, then aside. In a medium bowl, whisk together preserves, oil,
vinegar, & mustard. Add the cucumber, strawberries, mint, and toasted almonds and toss to combine. Season to
taste with salt & pepper. Serve inside lettuce leaves or over chopped lettuce.

Nutrition Information per serving (Makes 4 servings): Calories 145, Total Fat 8.5 g, Saturated Fat 0.9 g, Sodium
67 mg, Total Carbohydrate 16 g, Dietary Fiber 3.5 g, Protein 3 g

Serving Suggestion: pair with slow-roasted chicken or grilled pork tenderloin for a balanced meal