Healthy eating is an important part of maintaining optimal health and ensuring an active lifestyle throughout the years, but did you know that there are many “healthy” foods seniors shouldn’t be eating?
Many of these foods are off-limits due to their high bacteria content or food poisoning potential, which may compromise the health and safety of seniors in their older years. For seniors who want to stay healthy and cut down on the likelihood of food-borne illnesses, it’s generally best to avoid the following foods:
Sprouts, the sprouted greens of broccoli, alfalfa, or bean seeds, are generally considered a health-food wonder and are consumed by people all over the world due to the fact that they provide a huge variety of nutritional and digestive support and many needed vitamin and minerals.
Sprouts are dangerous for seniors, however, because they are a virtual breeding ground for illness-inducing bacteria. When seeds sprout, they can grow bacteria like salmonella and E-coli, which then gets trapped inside the seed. When seniors ingest contaminated seeds, they can become very ill, which may lead to dangerous secondary conditions like pneumonia or weight loss. In order to get all the benefits of sprouts without the dangerous risk of bacteria, seniors should consume plenty of leafy greens like Kale, collard greens, spinach, and Swiss chard instead.
2. Soft cheeses
Soft cheeses like Brie, chevre, Camembert, and blue cheese are generally unpasteurized and, as such, they can allow bacteria to breed in large amounts. While these soft cheese varieties may not be as much of an illness threat for younger people, they can harm seniors with a compromised immune system or a delicate stomach. It is important to note, however, that cheese offers a good dietary source of Vitamin D and seniors can get all the health benefits of cheese by eating varieties like cheddar, Monterey jack, and Swiss rather than soft varieties.
3. Raw meat
Some raw meat dishes, like Carpaccio (which consists of thin slivers of raw filets of beef) or steak tartare, are considered delicacies, but seniors should generally avoid them. The reason for this is that these foods are uncooked, which means that any bacteria present in the meat has not been killed by heat. This can make seniors very ill and can lead to the development of secondary conditions. Instead of eating raw meat, seniors should opt to consume lean white meat like chicken and regular portions of high-quality, cooked seafood to support optimal brain function and healthy joints.
Sushi is eaten around the world and is considered a health food due to its high levels of vitamins, minerals, and omega-3 fatty acids. While seniors can safely enjoy consuming cooked sushi varieties (such as those that use smoked salmon or cooked shrimp, for example), it is generally wise for seniors to avoid eating raw (sashimi) varieties as these may harbor dangerous bacteria that can make seniors very ill.
5. Oysters, clams, and mussels
For those who love them, oysters, clams, and mussels are a popular form of raw seafood that is packed with vitamins and minerals. Unfortunately, they can also pack a serious bacterial punch, which can lead to vomiting, diarrhea, and dehydration in seniors. Because these foods are raw and sourced from around the world, it can be difficult to assure their quality and purity, and if a senior eats a bad one, it can have disastrous health consequences. If seniors want to eat these foods, they should always be cooked and should come from a reputable source, although it’s wise to talk to your doctor beforehand.
6. Raw eggs
We’ve all seen images of people consuming raw eggs in order to build muscle and have more energy, but raw and undercooked eggs can actually be very dangerous for seniors. This is because raw eggs present a salmonella risk and can have unfortunate health consequences for seniors.
In light of this, seniors shouldn’t eat raw eggs and should avoid foods like unpasteurized eggnog, French toast, homemade Cesar dressing and hollandaise sauce, all of which include undercooked eggs in some form or another. Eggs on their own are a healthy food filled with important nutrients but in order to be safe for seniors they need to be cooked or baked fully, as in scrambled or hard-boiled eggs.
7. Unpasteurized milk
Unpasteurized milk is often revered as a health food due to its intact mineral levels and high levels of beneficial fats, but seniors should avoid it altogether. This is because unpasteurized milk breeds and harbors bacteria in higher levels than pasteurized milk, which is super-heated to kill dangerous bacteria and keep the milk safe for human consumption.
While this doesn’t mean that seniors need to steer clear of milk altogether, it does mean that they should stay with pasteurized whole-milk varieties.
8. Unpasteurized juice
Unpasteurized juice has long been considered a health food due to the fact that the lack of pasteurization (high heat) leaves the juice’s nutrients intact. Unfortunately, however, anything that is unpasteurized leaves itself open to dangerous bacteria development and seniors who drink unpasteurized juices are at increased risk of food-borne illnesses and diseases.
Fortunately, seniors can get all of the same health benefits of unpasteurized juices by drinking high-quality pasteurized fruit and vegetable juices.
9. Multigrain bread
This “health food” comes with a caveat: while multigrain bread can be good for seniors, it’s important to look at the ingredient list when making bread purchasing decisions. If the bread is made with a collection of refined flours, it’s likely that it doesn’t pack much more of a nutritional punch than Wonderbread and, if it’s made with high-fructose corn syrup, it is likely to do more harm to a senior’s body than good.
To ensure that seniors are purchasing and consuming healthful multigrain bread, it’s important to look for varieties that are made with whole wheat flours and to ensure that they don’t have any high fructose corn syrup within them. Bread is an important staple for seniors and high-quality, multigrain varieties can support the health of a variety of body systems.
10. Low-fat foods
While the war on fat has been raging for years, it’s not generally wise to avoid foods with natural levels of fat in them. Healthy fats, like those found in fish, nuts, and olive oil, have heart-protecting benefits and can help seniors stay healthy and alert for many years. That said, it’s important to opt for full-fat varieties in things like milk and yogurt. These healthy fats offer brain and joint protection and support that low-fat varieties never will.
What’s good for one may not be good for all and seniors will do well to avoid these 10 “health foods” as they age. Doing this helps seniors reduce the risk of contracting food-borne illnesses and helps keep seniors healthy, happy, fit, and active throughout their golden years.