~ Nutrition for the Long Run

Vibrant Life, 09-01-05

The graying of America can be seen everywhere. Some 4.5 million citizens are 85 years of age or older. By 2030 we can expect those over 65 to number 71 million and those 80 or above to reach 19.5 million. In 2001, 48,000 men and women celebrated their 100th birthday.

How has our population reached these milestones? Causes vary. Advances in medical care, new technologies, and increased access to health care have added years to lives. Public awareness of the damaging effects of tobacco and inactivity contributes to large segments of our population making healthier lifestyle choices. An abundant supply of highquality food lines our grocery stores and provides the nutrient substrates needed for long-term health maintenance.

Studies of centenarians show that they possess at least one gene that enhances longevity. Environmental factors add years, too; factors such as physical activity, not smoking, not being obese, and strong family ties. These individuals show elevated HDL "good" cholesterol levels and low platelet activation levels, both of which protect against cardiovascular disorders. Their vitamins A and E levels, EPA and DHA (two essential Omega3 fatty acids), and unsaturated to saturated fat ratios are higher than others over 60 years of age. Plus, their oxide counts are lower, reducing potentially damaging oxidation processes.

People can't change their genes. But personal choices influence the remaining differences between those 100 years or older and those cruising past 60.

A sense of well-being is important later in life, just as it is throughout the entire life cycle. Older adults seek to maintain their physical and mental health and continue to respond to their environment. Nutrition is basic to that sense of well-being. It's key to avoiding disease and disabilities from disease; to functioning mentally and physically and participating actively in life.

Surveys of Americans 65 to 74 years of age show that about 42 percent rate their health as "very good to excellent," while only 33 percent of those over 75 years do so.

Study after study has shown that the health-protective factors found in fruits and vegetables will lower the risk for chronic diseases. Even though the public press, health-care professionals, and many moms stress the need to "eat your vegetables," only 32 percent of people 65 and older consume the recommended five servings of fruits and vegetables each day. Of those servings, only 2 5 percent of the chosen vegetables are rich in phytochemicals (dark green, deep yellow/ orange vegetables and tomato products); and 48 percent of the selected fruits are those thought to decrease disease risk (berries, citrus, and melons).

Aging successfully depends on the choices people make far more than on the genes they inherit. If you're looking forward to reaching that 100th birthday, choose to maintain a healthy weight, do not smoke, remain physically active, and eat of a wide variety of healing foods in appropriate portion sizes.

To help you along that nutritional road, consider these ten tasty recipes designed to give your body what it needs to keep going, and going, and going, and going . . .

SPLIT-PEA SOUP
  • 2 cups split peas
  • 2 quarts water
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped m
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • ¼ t. thyme
  • ¼ t. marjoram
  • 1 bay leaf salt to taste
Mix all ingredients. Cover and cook slowly for about one hour. The mixture must cook until the peas are very soft. Discard the whole bay leaf. Serve hot. Serves 8. Per serving: calories: 205; protein: 14 grams; carbohydrate: 35 grams; fat: 1 gram; cholesterol: 0 milligrams.

ROASTED VEGETABLES WITH TASTY CILANTRO SAUCE

Roasted Vegetables
  • 4 lbs. butternut squash (about 2 medium)
  • 1 lb. beets (about 2 large)
  • 1 medium onion
  • 2 t. olive oil
  • 4 large garlic cloves
Accompaniment: tasty cilantro sauce

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Halve squash lengthwise and discard seeds. Peel squash and cut enough i/4-inch cubes to measure 6 cups. Trim and peel beets. Cut beets and onion into 'A-inch cubes. In a 11- by 17-inch roasting pan toss squash, beets, and onion with oil until coated and season with salt. Roast vegetables in the middle of the oven 2 5 minutes. Thinly slice garlic and scatter over vegetables. Roast vegetables 8 minutes more, or until barely tender. Serves 4. Per serving: calories: 155; protein: 3 grams; carbohydrate: 34 grams; fat: 3 grams; cholesterol: 0 milligrams.

Tasty Cilantro Sauce
  • ½ cup packed fresh cilantro leaves
  • ½ cup packed fresh flat-leafed parsley leaves
  • 2 shallots, chopped
  • 1 large garlic clove, minced
  • 2 teaspoons grated peeled fresh gingerroot
  • ¼ t. cumin seeds
  • ¼ cup plus 1 T. water
  • 1 t. olive oil
  • 2 T. soy sauce
  • 2 T. fresh lemon juice salt to taste
In a blender, puree all ingredients until smooth (about 1 minute) and season with salt. Sauce may be made one day ahead and chilled (covered). Just before serving, stir in lemon juice. Makes about ¾ of a cup. Per tablespoon: calories: 13; protein: 0.5 grams; carbohydrate: 2 grams; fat: 0.4 grams; cholesterol: 0 milligrams.

OVEN-BAKED VEGGIES
  • 2 large Spanish onions
  • 4 large sweet carrots
  • 8-10 small potatoes (not baking potatoes)
  • 2 T. olive oil
  • 2 T. melted soy margarine
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 t. crushed dried rosemary or 1 T. fresh leaves
  • 1 ½ t. dried marjoram or 1 T. fresh marjoram salt to taste
Preheat oven to 375° F. Peel all the vegetables, if desired. If using large onions, cut each onion into eighths by slicing it lengthwise into quarters, and then cut each quarter crosswise. If using large carrots, halve them lengthwise; and then cut them into 1-inch sections. Quarter 1 the potatoes (about 1-inch cubes in size). Arrange the vegetables in a large oiled baking dish and toss in the oil, margarine, garlic, and herbs. Cover tightly with aluminum foil and bake for 35 minutes. Uncover and turn the vegetables with a large spoon. Add salt and roast at 425° F. for approximately 30 minutes or until the carrots and potatoes are thoroughly cooked and the edges of the vegetables have browned. Serves 8. Per serving: calories: 202; protein: 3 grams; carbohydrate: 34 grams; fat: 7 grams; cholesterol: 0 milligrams.

EDAMAME PASTA SALAD
  • 1 ½ cups uncooked bowtie pasta 2/3 cup shelled edamame soybeans
  • 2 T. olive oil
  • 1 cup finely chopped red onion
  • 4 oz. fresh baby spinach (about 6 cups)
  • ½ orange bell pepper, cut in 1-inch x ¼-inch strips
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh dill
  • ¼ t. salt
Cook pasta in boiling salted water five minutes. Add edamame; cook six minutes or until tender. Drain and rinse with cold water. Drain and place in a large bowl. Heat a large skillet. Add oil and onion. Sauté until crispy tender. Add spinach and cook 2 minutes until barely wilted, stirring frequently. Add spinach mixture, bell pepper, dill, and salt to the pasta mixture. Toss gently. Serves 4. Per serving: calories: 266; protein: 11 grams; carbohydrate: 38 grams; fat: 10 grams; cholesterol: 0 milligrams.

LENTIL CONFETTI SALAD
  • 1 cup lentils
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 t. McKay's Chicken Seasoning
  • 4 T. olive oil
  • 2 medium celery stalks, diced
  • 2 small carrots, peeled and diced
  • 1 small red onion, diced
  • 1 T. lemon juice
  • 2 t. chopped fresh thyme leaves or ½ t. dried thyme
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes (each cut in half)
Sort lentils for stones; rinse well in a strainer. Bring lentils, water, and McKay's seasoning to a boil in a 2quart saucepan. Reduce heat; cover and simmer 40 minutes or until lentils are tender. Drain, if necessary. Meanwhile, sauté celery, carrots, and red onion in 1 tablespoon olive oil until crispy tender. Gently toss warm lentils with sautéed vegetables, lemon juice, thyme, cherry tomatoes, and remaining olive oil. Let marinate 1 hour in the refrigerator to blend flavors. Serves 6. Per serving: calories: 210; protein: 9; carbohydrate: 25 grams; fat: 9 grains; cholesterol: 0 milligrams.

HOBO PACKS

Using any combination of vegetables such as potatoes, sweet potatoes, red and green bell peppers, mushrooms, zucchini, green beans; chop into 1-inch sections or make even smaller if desired. Place vegetables on heavy-duty foil, drizzle with minced garlic and olive oil, season with salt, and carefully seal. Place in the oven at 375° F. for 30 minutes. Turn over for another 30 minutes. Serve and eat at home or place in a cooler and take with you for a hot meal out in nature. These are a great idea on camping trips as the packs can be prepared at a campfire.

ASPARAGUS SALAD
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 2 T. lemon juice
  • ¼ t. salt
  • 3 cups asparagus pieces, cut into 2inch lengths (about 1 pound)
  • 1 large leek, sliced
  • 1 cup mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 yellow, orange, or red bell pepper, cut into thin strips
  • 2 T. soy parmesan alternative cheese (optional)
Preheat oven to 425° F. Combine olive oil, lemon juice, and salt in a cup. Combine asparagus, leek, mushrooms, bell pepper, and half of olive oil mixture in a large roasting pan; toss to mix well. Roast vegetables 20 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally. Remove from oven; toss with remaining olive oil mixture. Place in a serving dish and garnish with cheese. Best served immediately, warm; but at room temperature is also fine, as desired. Serves 6. Per serving: calories: 132; protein: 4 grams; carbohydrate: 9 grams; fat: 10 grams; cholesterol: 2 milligrams.

CABBAGE SALAD
  • 1 T. olive oil
  • 10 cups shredded savoy cabbage
  • 2 cups snow peas, cut lengthwise in half
  • 1 cup julienne-cut carrots
  • ½ t. salt
  • 1 T. olive oil
  • 1 T. sesame oil
Heat olive oil in a 12-inch skillet. Cook cabbage 3 minutes on mediumhigh heat, stirring frequently. Add snow peas, carrots, and salt. Cook another 3 minutes until vegetables are crisp-tender, stirring frequently. Stir in olive and sesame oils; toss to mix well. Serves 6. Per serving: calories: 117; protein: 3 grams; carbohydrate: 8 grams; fat: 10 grams; cholesterol: 0 milligrams.

FRUIT PARFAIT
  • 2 cups frozen cherries, packed in own juice
  • 2 large bananas
  • 2 cups crushed pineapple, packed in own juice
  • 3 cups well-chilled soy yogurt with fruit 1/3 cup chopped walnuts mint leaves
Reserve several cherries for garnish. Place remaining cherries in an 8½: inch oven-safe dish. Slice bananas about 3/8 in. thick, and line the sides of the dish. In a small bowl, fold in 2 cups partially drained pineapple into yogurt. Pour into fruit-lined dish. Sprinkle with nuts. Garnish with reserved cherries and mint leaves. Serves 9. Per serving: calories: 178; protein: 5 grams; carbohydrate: 35; fat: 3 grams; cholesterol: 3 milligrams.


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