Every year, delicious recipes ranging from soups to desserts herald the start of pumpkin season. Though enjoying a slice of pumpkin bread is likely to satisfy your senior loved one’s taste buds, this powerful superfood also provides amazing health benefits for people over 65. The Bridgewater senior care experts at Home Care Assistance discuss 5 of the top benefits of pumpkin for the elderly.
1. Sharpens Eyesight
Eyesight naturally diminishes with age, but a healthy diet can dramatically slow the progression of age-related vision loss. A single cup of cooked pumpkin contains more than 200 percent of the daily recommended intake of vitamin A. When combining this vitamin A with the beta-carotene that also gives pumpkins their orange color, your loved one can double up on vision protection.
2. Helps Manage Weight
When it comes to adding fiber to their diets, most seniors do not automatically think of pumpkins. However, pumpkin contains 3 grams of fiber for every cup consumed. This high fiber content can help your loved one stay full longer so he or she eats less at meals, and it also promotes healthy digestion that helps with weight management.
3. Reduces Cholesterol
Pulp isn’t the only part of the pumpkin worth eating. Pumpkin seeds are also a tasty snack. These crunchy seeds are nutritional powerhouses on their own because they contain phytosterols, which are known for reducing LDL, the bad type of cholesterol. To get the most out of pumpkin seeds, your loved one should avoid coating them in butter. Instead, he or she should use olive oil and toast them in the oven.
4. Elevates Mood
Seniors are at greater risk for depression than younger adults due to potential isolation. A handful of pumpkin seeds contains the amino acid tryptophan that regulates serotonin in the brain. For additional mood-enhancing benefits, your loved one can share some pumpkin seeds with a companion.
5. Boosts the Immune System
When cold and flu season hits, seniors are told to stock up on vitamin C. However, they should try to get this essential vitamin from natural sources rather than a pill. If your loved one is bored of eating oranges and grapefruit, pumpkins are a delicious alternative. Eating just one cup of pumpkin provides more than 20 percent of the vitamin C seniors need each day to remain healthy.
The foods your loved one eats can have a significant impact on his or her overall health, and it’s important to know which foods have the most nutritional benefits. To learn more about senior nutrition, reach out to Home Care Assistance. Our caregivers can help your loved one maintain a healthy diet by cooking nutritious meals and taking care of the grocery shopping, and they can also assist with a wide variety of other important tasks. For more information on the respite and 24-hour care Bridgewater families trust, call 908.450.9400 to schedule a no-obligation consultation with a Care Manager.