In Menus for Seniors, Are Fresh, Frozen or Canned Foods Best?

  Menu Planning

Menus for seniors frequently incorporate fresh, locally-grown fruits and vegetables, as produce straight from the farm is both delicious and nutritious.

 

Are fresh foods always best? Frozen and canned foods are often cheaper and more readily available than freshly-picked produce. But are they also less healthy? Not necessarily – all three can be smart food choices in menus for seniors.

 

fresh menus for seniors

Fresh Foods

 

Fresh, in-season fruits and vegetables offer several advantages over frozen and canned foods.

 

Of the three options, just-picked produce packs the biggest nutrient punch. The food isn’t processed in any way, so it contains no additives or chemicals. Plus, seasonal produce delivers on taste – to many seniors, fresh, locally-sourced foods provide the best flavor.

 

When planning menus for seniors, keep in mind that not all fresh fruits and veggies are grown at local farms. Often, they come from far away – and the time between picking and eating can cause produce to lose some of its nutritional value and flavor.

 

Frozen Foods

 

When fruits and veggies are picked at the peak of ripeness and frozen quickly afterward, they can be just as tasty and healthy as the freshest, in-season produce.

 

The freezing process locks in the flavor as well as the vitamins and minerals in the produce. Since fresh foods begin losing nutrients immediately after harvest, frozen foods often offer greater dietary value in menus for seniors.

 

However, some frozen vegetables and fruits aren’t healthy picks. Read the product labels carefully, as many selections contain added ingredients that are high in salt, added sugars or saturated fat.

 

Canned Foods

 

Canned fruits and veggies, like frozen foods, can be just as nutritious and delicious as fresh produce. Canned foods are picked at peak freshness, which preserves flavor quality. What’s more, the canning process retains most nutrients, with the exception of certain water-soluble vitamins, and canning can also increase the antioxidant content in some foods.

 

That said, canned foods aren’t always healthy. When using canned fruit in menus for seniors, choose varieties that are packed in water, their own juices or 100 percent juice – skip any that come in light or heavy syrup. As for canned vegetables, look for cans labeled as either “low sodium” or “no salt added.” And, never use cans with dents or other damage, as they may contain bacteria.

 

When chosen with care, fresh, frozen and canned foods can all be healthy options in menus for seniors at residential care facilities. Fruits and vegetables are a key part of a balanced diet — and the Grove Menus meal planning system is an easy source of tasty, produce-rich recipes designed to meet the nutritional needs of older adults.

 

The Grove Menus system also features an integrated suite of user-friendly meal planning tools that cut expenses, reduce waste and facilitate food service operations. With everything our cost-effective food menu program has to offer, Grove Menus makes developing healthy and appealing menus for seniors much faster and easier. For a free, no-obligation demonstration, contact us today.

 

https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/002095.htm

https://www.eatright.org/food/planning-and-prep/smart-shopping/frozen-foods-convenient-and-nutritious

https://www.eatright.org/food/vitamins-and-supplements/nutrient-rich-foods/are-canned-foods-nutritious-for-my-family

Dietitian-Approved Menus Encourage Liver Health for Seniors

  Menu Planning

Liver health is an important factor in dietitian-approved menus for senior care centers, assisted living facilities and nursing homes.

Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is common among older adults, and the risk increases with age. The condition is often preventable, however, and can even be reversible if caught in the earlier stages.

Since no medical treatments or medications are currently FDA-approved for NAFLD, treatment typically involves improved diet and nutrition. Below, we explore four of the primary ways that dietitian-approved meal planning programs help to prevent chronic liver disease.

Dietitian-approved menus liver health

Weight

Obesity is a definite risk factor for NAFLD. In fact, most people diagnosed with chronic liver disease are either overweight or obese.

Research shows that gradual weight loss can improve liver health and reverse the condition. However, daily calorie reduction needs to be carefully managed, as a diet too low in calories can increase inflammation in the liver and make NAFLD worsen. With dietitian-approved menus, older adults can lose weight without risking their health.

Fat Intake

Some studies have suggested that eating a diet high in saturated fat increases the risk for chronic liver disease. At the same time, consuming polyunsaturated fats – particularly omega-3 and monounsaturated fatty acids – may help prevent NAFLD.

Dietitian-approved menus for nursing homes, senior care centers and assisted living facilities are designed with fat intake in mind. Meals and snacks are planned to include healthy fats and avoid unhealthy saturated fat.

Sugar Intake

Sugars, and more specifically, fructose, have been associated with an increased risk of NAFLD. Research reveals that people with chronic liver disease tend to drink more soft drinks than people who don’t have the condition — and the fructose these beverages contain triggers triglyceride and fatty acid synthesis in the liver.

Some studies have found that short-term carbohydrate and sugar restriction may be more effective at improving liver health than calorie reduction. To that end, meal planning programs track and manage the amount of fructose and other sugars seniors consume on a daily basis.

Protein Intake

While proteins haven’t been proven to help prevent or treat chronic liver disease, some researchers have found that increasing protein intake may reduce the risk of NAFLD. However, other studies have determined that a diet high in animal protein can have the opposite effect.

Meal planning programs feature nutrient-dense dietary proteins from a range of animal and plant-based sources. Proper protein intake is vital for older adults, so recipes for seniors are often packed with protein.

Dietitian-approved menus can help prevent and treat chronic liver disease in older adults. However, planning nutritious meals and snacks to meet individual senior health needs can be a challenge. That’s where Grove Menus comes in.

The Grove Menus software system offers hundreds of tasty and healthy dietitian-approved recipes, each of which is easily modifiable to address specific dietary concerns. In addition, our meal planning program contains a suite of user-friendly tools designed to streamline meal production, reduce kitchen waste and cut food costs.

For more information about Grove Menus, or to schedule a complimentary, no-pressure demonstration of how our dietitian-approved menus can work to help improve liver health in seniors, contact us today.

A Menu Planning Program Can Help Lower Cholesterol

  Assisted Living Menus

A menu planning program with heart-healthy options is essential for any senior care center. The body’s chemistry and metabolism change as we age, so many older adults need to work on lowering their cholesterol.

Eating the right foods can have a dramatic impact on cardiovascular health. As September is National Cholesterol Education Month, now’s the ideal time to share our best senior care center menu planning program tips for lowering cholesterol.

Menu Planning Program Cholesterol

Avoid Foods with Unhealthy Fats

Foods that contain trans-fat shouldn’t be included in a heart-healthy diet, as they raise the level of bad (LDL) cholesterol, while also lowering the good (HDL) cholesterol levels. Saturated fats are nearly as unhealthy, so intake should be seriously limited – according to the American Heart Association, no more than 5 or 6 percent of the daily caloric intake should come from saturated fat.

Choose Foods with Healthy Fats

Not all fats are bad for cholesterol levels — consuming foods that contain polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats can actually help in lowering cholesterol. When menu planning, senior care centers should aim to select recipes that rely on healthy fats like plant-based liquid oils, avocados, nuts and seeds.

Serve Up Plenty of Produce

Fruits and vegetables are low in saturated fat and loaded with fiber, and both characteristics aid in lowering cholesterol. Every form counts, so senior care centers can create heart-healthy meals and snacks with fresh, frozen, canned and dried fruits and veggies.

Go for Whole Grains

As we mentioned, high-fiber foods help reduce cholesterol levels. For that reason, whole grain foods are highly recommended for heart-healthy menu planning. Whenever possible, make whole grain breads, cereals, and starches a part of your senior care center meals and snacks.

Make Ingredient Substitutions

Older adults have favorite recipes, ones they’ve been making for years. If those recipes rely on ingredients that aren’t heart-healthy – like salt, butter and heavy cream — senior care centers need to recommend replacements. In addition, seniors who need help lowering their cholesterol should be encouraged to use herbs and spices to boost food flavor, rather than salt.

Could your senior care center benefit from a user-friendly, cost-effective menu planning program that includes heart-healthy options for lowering cholesterol? The Grove Menus software system is designed to make it easy to plan meals and snacks that meet the individual dietary needs of older adults.

Adopt the Grove Menus system, and you’ll have access to hundreds of delicious dietitian-approved recipes – all of which are easy to adjust for seniors with specific nutritional concerns. You’ll also have a suite of meal planning tools designed to reduce both food waste and food costs.

For more details about the Grove Menus software system, and for more of our menu planning program tips for lowering cholesterol, contact us and schedule a complimentary consultation and demonstration today.

Pros and Cons of Coffee in Assisted Living Food Menus

  Menu Planning

Coffee always seems to have a spot on assisted living food menus – but is it a good idea for older adults to drink coffee on a regular basis?

Research suggests that overall, coffee is a healthy beverage that offers several benefits to seniors. However, as with many other well-liked foods and drinks, there is such a thing as drinking too much coffee. In addition, coffee isn’t the best choice for every older adult.

coffee assisted living menus

With that in mind, here’s a look at some of the pros and cons of including coffee in assisted living food menus.

Health Benefits of Coffee Consumption

Coffee has been associated with many impressive health benefits. Drinking about three cups per day may reduce the risks of a range of medical conditions and health outcomes, including:

  • All-cause mortality
  • Coronary heart disease
  • Stroke
  • Cancer
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Gout
  • Chronic liver disease
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Depression
  • Alzheimer’s disease

Keep in mind, however, that studies of coffee consumption and its health benefits aren’t based on a standard cup size or preparation method. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends three to five 8-ounce cups per day, or no more than 400 milligrams of caffeine in total – but, seniors who don’t currently drink coffee aren’t encouraged to add the beverage to their food menus.

Drawbacks of Drinking Coffee

Coffee is known for its caffeine content – and for some older adults, consuming large doses of caffeine isn’t advised. Seniors with the following medical conditions may need to limit their intake:

  • High blood pressure
  • Gastroesophageal reflux (GERD)
  • Anxiety disorders
  • Sleep issues
  • Decreased bone density

Decaffeinated coffee can be a good food menu substitute for seniors who love the beverage, but removing the caffeine may eliminate or reduce some of the potential health benefits.

Coffee Recommendations for Assisted Living Facilities

Like anyone else, seniors at assisted living facilities should also limit their consumption of fancy coffee drinks – many coffeehouse-style beverages have added fat and sugar as well as extra calories.

Also, though studies show that coffee consumption offers numerous health benefits, dietitians and nutrition professionals don’t recommend that all older adults drink the beverage. Assisted living food menus must be tailored to the individual, not based on population-wide advantages of a particular food or drink.

Grove Menus makes it easy to meet the individual dietary needs of older adults at assisted living facilities. Our cost-effective food menu program, featuring an integrated suite of user-friendly meal planning tools, has hundreds of dietitian-approved menus and recipes that can be modified to address nutritional concerns.

To learn more about the Grove Menus software system and how it works to create delicious and nutritious assisted living food menus, contact us and schedule a free, no-pressure consultation and demonstration today.

Dietitian-Approved Menus Celebrate Whole Grains Month

  Antioxidants

Dietitian-approved menus feature a variety of nutrient-rich foods to help older adults stay healthy as they age. Whole grains are great sources of dietary fiber as well as several important vitamins and minerals, so they’re often added to senior care center meals and snacks.

 

From amaranth and barley to wheat berries and wild rice, whole-grain foods both take center stage and play supporting roles in dietitian-approved menus. September is Whole Grains Month, so what better time to learn more about serving delicious and nutritious whole-grain foods to your senior care center residents?

 dietitian-approved menus

Senior Dietary Guidelines for Whole Grains

 

According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, females over the age of 50 need at least 6 daily grain servings, while males age 51 and over need a minimum of 8 servings.

 

Of these total grains per day, at least half should be whole. In other words, senior women should aim to eat a minimum of 3 servings of whole-grain foods, and senior men should make at least 4 of their grain servings whole.

 

Health Benefits of Whole Grains

 

Whole-grain foods offer a host of health benefits. Diets that feature more whole grains have been linked with:

 

  • Reduced inflammation

  • Decreased risk of stroke, heart disease and type 2 diabetes.

  • Slower cognitive decline

  • Reduced risk of Alzheimer’s disease

  • Living longer

 

Refined grains, or those that are missing one or more of their three key parts – the bran, germ and endosperm – don’t offer these same benefits to senior health.

 

Dietitian-Approved Tips for Serving More Whole Grains

 

Incorporating more whole-grain foods in senior care center meals and snacks isn’t difficult. In many cases, it’s a matter of making an easy ingredient substitution or addition, like:

 

  • Swapping out half of the white flour in baked goods for whole wheat flour

  • Using whole cornmeal for muffins and cornbread

  • Mixing uncooked oats into burgers, meatballs and meatloaf

  • Adding cooked wheat, rye berries or brown rice to soups and stews

 

Older adults also enjoy trying new foods. Why not try dietitian-approved recipes for whole-grain foods that may be unfamiliar to your senior care center residents, such as:

 

  • Pilafs, risottos and rice-like dishes made with bulgur, quinoa or sorghum

  • Whole-grain salads that feature barley, farro or wheat berries mixed with greens and veggies

  • Barley bread, teff flatbread and other interesting whole-grain breads

 

Planning dietitian-approved menus that are rich in whole-grain foods is easy with the Grove Menus. Our food menu program has hundreds of delicious and nutritious recipes, all of which can be modified as necessary to meet the individual health needs of senior care center residents.

 

Along with dietitian-approved menus, the Grove Menus system includes a suite of user-friendly food menu program tools that can help streamline meal and snack production, reduce waste and cut costs. For senior care centers, adopting our software system is an effective way to facilitate food service operations.

 

For more information on Grove Menus, or to schedule a free, no-obligation demonstration of how our dietitian-approved menus work to serve up the whole grains seniors need, contact us today.