Pam Gray, Chief Operating Officer for Bonaventure Senior Living, says that staying healthy and living a long and active life involves making healthy choices at every stage of living. Specifically, she cites the inclusion of a number of foods proven to have a positive effect on health. Here, Pam Gray of Bonaventure answers questions about what to eat—and what to avoid.
Q: What are the top super foods?
Pam Gray, Bonaventure: There are many foods that are considered ideal for health and well-being. These include blueberries, oats, pumpkin, salmon, spinach, teas and tomatoes. Many other foods are considered super foods so it is difficult to pinpoint just a few.
Q: Why are blueberries considered a top choice of nutritionists?
Pam Gray, Bonaventure: Blueberries and other dark fruits are packed with antioxidants. Blueberries contain high amounts of vitamin C and potassium. They have anti-inflammatory properties and can help lower the risk of cancer and heart disease.
Q: What are the benefits of drinking green tea?
Pam Gray, Bonaventure: Not only is green tea delicious but, like blueberries, also contains heart-healthy, cancer-fighting antioxidants. Green tea is also known to burn fat and help prevent diabetes.
Q: Does spinach really increase muscle tone?
Pam Gray, Bonaventure: While all green leafy vegetables are good for you, spinach is particularly healthy because it is an alkaline food, meaning it can stave off bone loss and prevent muscle deterioration with age.
Q: What are the best foods for beta-carotene?
Pam Gray, Bonaventure: Pretty much any orange food is going to contain lots of beta-carotene. Carrots and pumpkins are two of the most versatile and can be mixed with many other dishes to produce exciting flavors.
Q: How much salmon should someone eat to intake enough omega-3s?
Pam Gray, Bonaventure: Salmon, or other wild-caught cold-water fish, should be consumed two or three times a week in approximately 3-ounce portions to get the most benefit. If you’re not a fan of fish or seafood, there are other sources of omega-3s such as flax seed oil.
Q: What are the health benefits of tomatoes?
Pam Gray, Bonaventure: Tomatoes are one of those amazing foods that have many different roles in a healthy diet. They can ward off inflammation, protect against blood clots, help reduce heart disease risk, prevent DNA damage, and may even help prevent some forms of cancer.
Q: Are beans good for you?
Pam Gray, Bonaventure: Beans are considered a super food because of their abundance of protein, fiber and antioxidants. Three cups of beans per week can help with weight loss, which can lower the chances of developing heart disease, diabetes or other chronic conditions.
Q: What foods are considered the “super greens?”
Pam Gray, Bonaventure: Many cereal grasses in their infant stage such as wheat and barley are considered super greens. Certain types of algae are also either eaten raw or juiced for their almost unbelievable health benefits. Dark green vegetables and grasses help to detox the body and maintain a proper over all acid-base balance.
Q: Is juicing the best way to get the nutrients from fruits and vegetables?
Pam Gray, Bonaventure: While a juice detox is considered healthy and safe for most Americans, it does not provide enough fiber for most senior citizens’ digestive needs. However, replacing store-bought processed juices with freshly prepared fruit and vegetable juice can add vitamins and minerals to any diet while reducing processed sugar intake.
Q: Are there any foods that can help lower cholesterol?
Pam Gray, Bonaventure: Many foods are known to lower cholesterol and reduce blood pressure. Legumes, oatmeal, broccoli and celery are some of the most popular and can be prepared in many different ways to suit different tastes.
Q: What are some ways to sneak vegetables into the diet of someone who does not like the taste?
Pam Gray, Bonaventure: Spinach, carrots and many other vegetables can be added to fruit smoothies, homemade ice cream, and mashed potatoes. Many vegetables including celery can be dipped in low-fat dressings. Kale and other low-liquid vegetables can be sliced thin, coated in olive oil, and baked as a replacement for the traditional potato chip.
Q: Dark chocolate is often touted as being high in antioxidants. What other benefits does this tasty treat offer?
Pam Gray, Bonaventure: Dark chocolate can lower blood pressure and help relieve stress.
Q: Are nuts considered a health food?
Pam Gray, Bonaventure: While nuts are high in fat, it is not the bad kind. They’re extremely high in protein, fiber and many nutrients that work within the body to stabilize blood sugar.
Q: Kale has recently been added to the list of super foods. Why?
Pam Gray, Bonaventure: Kale has gained an advantage over broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower for its mild taste and abundance of cancer-preventing nutrients. Kale contains more than four dozen different flavonoids, which provide a number of health benefits.
Q: What are the worst foods to eat for those trying to lose weight?
Pam Gray, Bonaventure: Pretty much anything out of the box should be avoided for those trying to lose weight. Most boxed, canned and packed foods are processed, which will increase the dieter’s intake of preservatives and also lead to more frequent hunger. It is best to stick with whole foods including plenty of fruits, vegetables and lean meats.
Q: Are there certain foods that people with heart problems should avoid?
Pam Gray, Bonaventure: Processed meats, white bread and foods high in fat, like pizza, should be avoided by anyone with heart problems.
Pam Gray of Bonaventure has spent the last two decades of her career focusing on senior needs. Currently, as the Chief Operating Officer of Bonaventure Senior Living, Pam Gray dedicates her time making sure that the company’s 37 communities operate efficiently and with a level of quality care and value unavailable anywhere else. For additional information about Bonaventure options for assisted and independent living or memory care, visit RetirementPerfected.com.