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Food Facts for Older Adults

What should you eat to stay healthy? New information about nutrition seems to come out each day. Often, the information does not address the concerns of older adults. Sometimes the advice is confusing. This bulletin focuses on nutrition topics of particular interest to older adults and gives suggestions on how you can improve your diet by following the Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

Sorting out information on nutrition, figuring out what it means for you personally, and making changes in how you eat are well worth the effort. What you eat may affect your risk for several of the leading causes of death in the United States, such as coronary heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and some types of cancer. More importantly, healthy eating and regular exercise can give you the energy and strength to enjoy an active, independent lifestyle as long as possible.

Americans of all ages need to eat healthier. Making changes doesn't have to be difficult. You don't have to give up your favorite foods or stop eating out. With some basic information and a look at your current eating habits, you can begin to make gradual changes that can help you improve or maintain your health.

This bulletin provides information and suggestions that can help you follow the guidelines, including

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1. facts about fat, cholesterol, and sodium;

• Use sugars only in moderation

2. a discussion of the special needs of older adults, including getting enough nutrients, fluids, and fiber, and precautions when taking medications;

• Use salt and sodium only in


• If you drink alcoholic beverages, do

so in moderation

3. tips on making healthy food choices when you shop and cook;

4. how to maintain a healthy weight;

5. questions older people ask about nutrition;

6. a roundup of tips and recipes for preparing foods Dietary Guidelines style; and

7. a list of resources for more information.

Please note that this information is for people who are generally in good health. If your doctor has prescribed a special diet for you because of a health conditon, follow that advice. However, this bulletin will help you better understand current nutrition information and may raise questions for you to discuss with your doctor or dietitian about your special nutrition needs.

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