How to Achieve Lower Saturated Fat in a Senior's Diet

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Terracina Grand

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Jul 23, 2023

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Florida - Southwest

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When people move into a managed senior living community, they often ask about saturated fat in our meals, shared Mark Holmes, national director of culinary operations at The Goodman Group. He reflects that this is a good thing because it shows incoming residents are aware of senior nutrition issues and engaged in improving their own eating habits.

Different types of fat can affect both “good” and “bad” cholesterol levels. Saturated fat in animal-based foods (meats, full-fat dairy products and eggs) increases LDL (“bad”) cholesterol in your blood. Consuming less saturated fat not only improves senior nutrition but also reduces the risk of heart attack and stroke. 

While these facts are motivating, it can be challenging to change your diet after years of eating a certain way, explains Mark. Here is his key to success: do not “just say no!” 

EVERYTHING IN MODERATION

The more restrictions you put in place, the easier it is to fall off any diet. Rather than cutting out everything that contains saturated fat, Mark and his culinary teams across communities managed by The Goodman Group focus on each person and what will work for them. The goal is moderation.

They focus on a three-prong approach:

  1. Focus on what you can have
  2. Find tasty alternatives for things you can no longer eat (especially if you have chronic health conditions, as many seniors do)
  3. Use portion control to make room for favorite foods from time to time

The culinary teams set a maximum of 18 grams per day for saturated fat within menus and recipes. However, that doesn’t mean every meal has to meet the strictest limits. Under the liberalized diet program, managed communities can take a broader view, averaging things out over a week. That way, residents can still enjoy more of their favorite foods without sacrificing health considerations.

Truly, Mark says, it comes down to personal choices. Make the right ones and you can lower your saturated fat intake without compromising flavor profiles. Mark and his teams use some creative ideas to lower saturated fat intake, ideas any senior can put to use on their own.

CHOOSE LEANER CUTS OF MEAT

Beef, lamb, pork and chicken all contain saturated fat. Mark suggests turkey sausage in place of pork, and using fat-free turkey or ham for sandwiches. But be choosy about turkey, he warns. Instead of deli meats, consider roasting your own turkey. If you can’t do that, choose a whole roasted chicken from the store. Deli meats are high in nitrates, something best to avoid when possible. 

Eating leaner cuts of meat and eating more fish will help cut down on saturated fat while still allowing you to eat the foods you enjoy. You can also get your needed protein from low-fat dairy and plant-based foods such as beans and nuts. 

CHOOSE THE RIGHT COOKING EQUIPMENT

To avoid saturated fat, you should stay away from fried foods. Again, rather than just saying no, think of ways to get creative making the foods you like. For example, communities managed by The Goodman Group opt to use air fryers when a dish calls for frying. That way, it’s okay for residents to have the breaded cutlets they love on occasion. If you don’t have an air fryer at home, try baking foods in the oven instead of frying them. 

BE SENSIBLE ABOUT OILS

Oils are famous for their saturated fat content, but tropical oils like coconut and palm oil contain even higher amounts. It is advised to steer clear of them when at all possible. Some more oil considerations include:

  • Purchase and use a sprayer when it comes to adding oil for cooking. You can fill it with quality olive oil, or buy PAM or grocery brand spray olive oil. A spritz or two will do for cooking, so you’ll use a lot less than if you pour oil directly into your pan.
  • Look for light salad dressings or make your own vinaigrette, light on the oil. Eat emulsion dressings such as ranch, Thousand Island and bleu cheese sparingly as they are high in oil. 
  • Rather than spreading butter on your bread, use Neufchatel cream cheese instead. You’ll get plenty of flavor with much less fat!

WATCH YOUR PORTIONS

The best overall diet to ensure proper senior nutrition includes a variety of vegetables and fruits. That’s one reason communities managed by The Goodman Group feature such eclectic menus. Vegetables aren’t only nutritious, they fill your plate and stomach with fibrous products rather than fat. By choosing larger portions of veggies, you can then say yes to a small serving of something that is higher in fat.

THINK BEYOND YOUR PLATE

Reducing saturated fat is a great step toward better senior nutrition. However, total caloric intake matters, too, so exercise also plays a role in combating fat and maintaining a healthy weight. Consider activities such as yoga or tai chi.

Ultimately, it’s up to each person’s individual choice. Whether you’re living on your own or you’re a member of a senior living community, you have to be engaged in making the right choices for your diet. After all, no one knows your preferences better than you! 

Topics: Senior Living, Nutrition

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Terracina Grand

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