What does summer mean to you? For many families, the dawning of this sunny season means it’s time to restock the fridge and pantry with all of their favorite delicious, nutritious foods.
So, what summer staples should seniors and caregivers add to their grocery lists this season? Here are seven summertime classics that are also healthy superfoods:
What could be more of an icon of summertime than watermelon? Whether you serve it at a cookout or barbecue, toss it into your favorite summer salad, or cut it up and save it as a cool snack for a hot day, watermelon is a warm weather staple all over the country. Even better? This famous summer fruit is also loaded with healthy benefits!
For one thing, watermelon is absolutely dense with lycopene, a healthy antioxidant that has been shown to help prevent heart disease, and even ward off some types of cancer. At the same time, watermelon is a good source of potassium, vitamins A and C, and amino acids that can help lower blood pressure. Meanwhile, watermelon is extremely watery and full of fluids, which can make it a real hydrating thirst quencher on a warm day.
When the sun shines high and those April showers subside, plenty of people love to get out into the country and go berry picking. Whether you eat them fresh off the vine or pick up a bunch from your favorite grocery store or farmer’s market, summer berries are a great source of antioxidants and vitamins.
Blueberries, for instance, are tart, delicious, and low in calories – even though they’re positively bursting with healthy compounds. Blueberries are extremely nutrient-dense, and contain antioxidants that can help our bodies fight against harmful free radicals. They have also been shown to help reduce the risk of developing cardiovascular disease and diabetes, while improving brain function and memory.
Another iconic summer berry, the raspberry, is similarly low in calories but high in nutrients. Raspberries are packed with healthy fiber, which can help lower cholesterol and promote a healthy body weight. They’re also a great source of vitamin C, with just one cup of berries offering up more than half of your recommended daily levels of this crucial, immunity-boosting vitamin.
For many people, it’s not really summertime until there are bright yellow corn cobs roasting on the grill. Corn is a summertime staple for a reason. Many people grow up husking corn with their family. For others, corn kernels from a can are a quick and easy way to create a perfect summertime side dish, like salad or salsa.
However you take it, corn is surprisingly healthy, making it a great addition to your senior’s summer menu. For seniors, corn offers a number of particularly unique benefits. This summer produce is a great source of lutein, a powerful antioxidant which can help protect your eyes, lowering the risk for age-related macular degeneration. Studies have also shown that corn contains antioxidants that may help older adults reduce their risk of heart disease and cancer.
4.) Sunflower Seeds and Nuts
Sunflower seeds and peanuts are go-to summertime snacks for many people. In particular, these finger foods have become synonymous with another summer treat – baseball, America’s pastime.
Plenty of people will be quick to tell you that there’s no better way to watch a game than with a bag of seeds to munch on. This summer, you and the senior in your life can snack with abandon. As it turns out, many munchy, crunchy, snackable favorites – including peanuts, almonds, and sunflower seeds – come with a whole host of health benefits.
The Chicago Tribune once called sunflower seeds one of the “Top Ten Undeappreciated Superfoods,” celebrating these summer favorites for their abundance of healthy vitamin E. As the Tribune notes, sunflower seeds are also a great source of protein, minerals, and phytosterols, which have been shown to help lower blood cholesterol levels.
Meanwhile, almonds have earned a glowing reputation and “superfood” status, thanks to their high concentration of healthy fats, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals.
Peanuts, another summertime staple, aren’t technically nuts – but they do come loaded with healthy fats, protein, and minerals such as phosphorus and magnesium.
5.) Iced Tea
What could be better on a hot, sunny day than cooling off with a tall glass of iced tea?
Iced tea is a true summertime treat. Whether you drink it black, add a touch of sugar, or stir in plenty of fresh lemon juice, there’s no better accompaniment to a long summer day than a delicious glass of your favorite tea.
Even better? When you sip on tea, you’re also doing your body some good. Science has linked regular tea consumption with a lower risk for developing Alzheimer’s and diabetes, as well as better oral health and stronger muscles and bones. One reason why tea should take a prominent place in your senior loved one’s fridge? Many different types of tea – including green, oolong, herbal, and black – come loaded with healthy flavonoids, natural chemicals which have been shown to aid with bone health, cancer prevention, and heart disease protection, among other major benefits.
Coleslaw is a backyard barbecue staple. Cool, tangy, and crunchy, it makes a perfect side dish, whether you’re grilling up steaks, searing burgers, or slow-cooking ribs. The main ingredient in a most slaws, cabbage, is a remarkably healthy food in its own right.
Whether you mix it up in a slaw with fresh broccoli, brussels sprouts, bell peppers, or apple (and go easy on the mayo), or serve it as an old school sauerkraut, cabbage can bring a lot of nutrition to a summertime table. A cruciferous vegetable, cabbage is rich in vitamins C and K, as well as inflammation-fighting antioxidants. Meanwhile, sauerkraut – like other fermented foods – has been shown to improve “good” gut bacteria, helping promote better digestion and nutrient absorption.
For many avid gardeners (and excited eaters), summer really means one thing: the return of fresh, juicy tomatoes. Many backyard growers cultivate tomatoes every year as an easy, reliable way to stretch their green thumb in the summer months.
Whether tossed with a salad, served up as part of a BLT, or simply sliced and eaten fresh, tomatoes are a great source of lycopene. A tomato-rich diet has been connected to a lower risk for developing certain types of cancer (including prostate cancer), and tomatoes are also a great source of salicylates, which have been shown to help reduce inflammation and help fight heart disease.
Bonus Tips: Helping Your Senior Make the Most of Summer Foods
Now that you know a few of the healthy ingredients that can help make summer more nutritious – and delicious – for seniors, here are a few more key things to keep in mind:
- Don’t force foods on your senior loved ones. Instead, try to accommodate their tastes and preferences as much as you can. One effective idea may be to take your senior loved one shopping at the grocery store or farmer’s market, and see what they’re interested in. Picking out their healthful favorites could help ensure that they eat well, and don’t just let healthy foods grow old in the back of the fridge.
- Try to make some time to help your senior with meal prep – or purchase pre-packed, pre-cut options – to make it easier for them to serve themselves. Your loved one may be more willing to eat when they have perfectly portioned fruits, veggies, and snacks ready to go without any additional work.
- Take advantage of the beautiful summer weather and try to eat outdoors, so your loved one can get some sun and fresh air. Take a few simple precautions, including making sure your senior loved one dresses for the weather, uses sun protection, and stays well-hydrated. You’d be surprised by just how much even a small trip into nature can positively impact a senior’s health and happiness.
- Make sure your loved one has a dining companion, as often as possible! Studies have shown that seniors who regularly share meals report higher rates of happiness and satisfaction, while also displaying lower rates of malnutrition than their peers who dine alone more frequently.
Food? Family? Friendship? We’re Here to Talk All Things Senior Care
During the summer months and all year long, Companions for Seniors is here to help give older adults the support they need – while giving family caregivers the respite they deserve.
At Companions for Seniors, we make food and mealtimes a cornerstone of the care we provide. This summer, a companion can help step in and provide for your senior loved one in many different ways – from sharing meals, to assisting with grocery shopping and other errands, to providing cooking and food prep services.
Our companions don’t look at cooking and shopping for our clients as a chore, but a privilege. We recognize that making grocery lists, planning menus, and sharing a meal all present an amazing chance to connect with seniors, and help truly enrich their lives.
When our caregivers cook and share meals with their clients, they talk about their day, share stories, and, most importantly, forge a meaningful bond. We often hear that these shared meals become highlights for not only our clients, but for our caregivers as well.
Our professionally trained and bonded companions offer flexible hours and personalized care plans, designed to help meet the needs of each of our senior clients and their families. If you have a loved one that could use assistance with meal prep, or simply a companion to help them make the most of the summertime, we’d love to be there for you.
Our mission is to help your elderly loved one maintain their independence and a higher quality of life. We offer meal prep services, companionship, driving services, and much more. Have any questions? Want to get in touch? Don’t hesitate to reach out through our convenient online portal, or give us a call at (866) 910-9020 to get the conversation started!