Cooking healthy meals from scratch is a great regular habit to get into for many reasons. You have control over what goes in your food, it is less expensive than take-out, there are not as many preservatives or trans fats in fresh recipes versus prepared or frozen meals, it engages your creativity and focus, and it is delicious!
Using a lot of herbs and spices from a variety of cuisines and recipes expands the palate. As we age, our sense of taste also changes. The number of taste buds on the tongue decreases at middle age and the remaining ones shrink in size. Into your 60s, the primary tastes of salty, sweet, bitter, and sour are less distinguishable, too. Adding more flavour from spices and herbs increases the taste and enjoyment of food.
What is best is herbs and spices contain high amounts of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties. Both components are interrelated and enhance the effectiveness of each other.
Antioxidants help prevent damage caused by free radicals from oxidation and internal stressors. Oxidation causes cell damage and antioxidants inhibit this process. Seniors are at a higher risk for negative impacts of oxidation and the build-up of free radicals over time. In addition to adding flavour and colour to dishes, spices and herbs contain some of the largest and most concentrated amounts of antioxidants in food.
Inflammation is a natural response in the body to injury, pathogens, and toxins. The immune system detects foreign substances in the body, like chemicals or microbes, and swelling and redness forms in the affected area. Inflammation can go beyond a natural response to the occasional injury or circumstance and become chronic, lasting, and start damaging healthy tissues. Too much inflammation or an improper response is associated with several diseases like arthritis, cancer, cardiovascular disease, autoimmune disorders, and Alzheimer’s, among many others. Spices and herbs contain anti-inflammatory properties to reduce inflammation and help prevent it.
Nutritional supplements that contain extracts of the helpful components of herbs and spices is an extra efficient way of benefitting from them. What’s best is these food sources are all-natural and don’t come with the same side effects as certain medications. A nutritional supplement can also be helpful.
Seniors who require assistance in the home should speak to their Caregiver about integrating more healthy herbs and spices into their diet. Caregivers can assist with creating meal plans, shopping lists, cooking, checking allergies, and more. For more specific information click here to review the various health care services available.
Plant-based foods have the highest antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties versus animal products. Look for recipes that are wholly or primarily plant-based and that feature a variety of spices and herbs or add your favourites according to taste. A great way to do so is to check recipes and food sites for vegetarian and vegan cuisine and integrate them into one’s weekly meal plan. There are also many recipe books available that feature a near-endless amount of meals from international cuisines with unique and savoury flavours, and even healthy desserts.