When looking for healthy recipes for older adults, one of the best anti-aging foods to include is berries. Not only do they provide a punch of flavor, but berries are also little powerhouses of nutrition, making them extremely valuable in diets for older adults. In addition to the added health boost, they also provide value for anti-aging skin care.
Here are three superfood berries to keep in mind the next time you’re out grocery shopping.
After strawberries, blueberries are the second most popular berry in the U.S. As far as anti-aging food goes, these are probably the most commonly noted berries to add to diets for older adults, but for good reason. Blueberries contain a huge range of antioxidants—a single serving of wild blueberries has greater antioxidant capacity than a serving of strawberries or cranberries, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. By adding these antioxidants to diets for older adults, they can help protect the whole body from oxidative stress and inflammation caused by free radical damage. Virtually every body system has been shown to benefit from the antioxidants in blueberries, including the heart, nervous system, brain, and even eyes.
There is strong research to support the role of blueberries in improving blood fat balance, balancing blood sugar levels, managing healthy cholesterol levels, preventing future blood vessel clogging, improving digestive function, and maintaining both diastolic and systolic blood pressure. Blueberries are also valuable in diets for older adults due to their effects on cognitive function—researchers believe the powerful anti-aging food can improve memory and postpone the onset of age-related cognitive decline.
What about anti-aging skin care? Including blueberries in healthy recipes for older adults can help with that, too. Aside from the fact that blueberries can save skin from the serious dangers of free radical damage, they’re also 85% water, which means they can help to keep skin hydrated from the inside out.
How to Eat Them: Blueberries can be combined with plenty of other anti-aging food and included in tons of healthy recipes for older adults—try adding blueberries to yogurt, oatmeal, salad, or a smoothie. These berries are most nutritious when eaten fresh and raw. Prime season is usually June through August. Make sure to pick blueberries that are completely blue and firm—any softness means faster molding.
These small red berries are one of the best herbs for health, which is why this anti-aging food has been used for ages in traditional Chinese healing to treat everything from eyesight to improved immune system function. Goji berries, also known as wolfberries, are useful in diets for older adults primarily because of their high antioxidant content, which can protect against oxidative stress in the body. They’re also lower in calories, but a surprisingly good source of vitamin C, protein, and dietary fiber. Although studies on goji berries are not as extensive as research on more common berries, there are still some promising findings.
For instance, a study in the journal Optometry and Vision Science by the American Academy of Optometry found that this anti-aging food can boost antioxidant levels in the body, which in turn can help maintain eye health in elderly subjects by protecting against macular degeneration. Another study in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine found that eating goji berries daily could increase feelings of well-being and improve gastrointestinal (digestive) function.
When added to health recipes for older adults, goji berries can also have a positive effect on anti-aging skin care. They contain the pigment beta-carotene, which gets turned into vitamin A in the body, which is essential for healthy skin. The anti-aging skin care food is also rich in vitamin C, which is another essential vitamin for skin, because your body uses it to produce collagen—there’s actually more vitamin C by weight in goji berries than any other anti-aging food.
How to Eat Them: The best way to add goji berries in diets for older adults is the dried variety—they’re usually sold as dried goji berries because that’s the only way to effectively preserve them for shipping. They look like raisins, but with a slightly more acidic taste. You can add use them as an ingredient in smoothies (soak them before blending) and trail mixes, or as a garnish on yogurt and salads. You can also find goji powder and supplements.
Most people associate cranberries with urinary tract infections—they’re known as a natural remedy to treat and prevent the infection—but this anti-aging food adds much more value than that to diets for older adults. Although one cup of fresh cranberries provides 18% of your daily recommended intake of collagen-boosting vitamin C, it’s the berry’s collection of at least five key categories of phytonutrients (phenolic acids, proanthocyanidins, anthocyanins, flavonoids, and triterpenoids) that really make it a superfood.
One of the biggest advantages of adding cranberries to diets for older adults is that studies have confirmed the phytonutrients have an anti-inflammatory effect on the cardiovascular system, digestive tract, and even around the gums. Focusing specifically on heart health, cranberries have been linked in studies to reduced stress on blood vessel walls—this reduces the risk of arterial plaque formation, which minimizes the risk of developing atherosclerosis (hardening of arteries caused by excessive plaque buildup). The anti-aging food is able to do this by preventing the activation of the two key enzymes that contribute to the atherosclerosis process. In layman’s terms, cranberries improve cardiovascular function and reduce the risk of heart disease.
We’ve already established that antioxidants are beneficial for anti-aging skin care. But the specific combination of antioxidants in cranberries makes them especially important in diets for older adults who are concerned about anti-aging skin care. Research has confirmed that the fruit’s five categories of polyphenols (antioxidants) are only able to reach their maximum potential when they’re consumed in combination, and only if they’re combined with other more conventional antioxidant compounds, like vitamin C and manganese—cranberries contain all of these key components. This is important for anti-aging skin care because the more antioxidant powers an anti-aging food contains, the more free radical damage is eliminated, and the healthier skin will remain over time.
How to Eat Them: People often assume that drinking cranberry juice in diets for older adults will suffice, but this is far from true. Aside from the fact that these juices usually contain a lot of added sugar, they also lack the full phytonutrient content, because the parts of the fruit that contain the most antioxidants (skin and flesh) get left behind when the juice is processed. So skip the juice and opt for fresh cranberries instead—look for ones that are plump, firm, and deep red in color (the darker the better).