The pleasure of eating well in as you get older

Enjoying eating healthily is one of the keys to staying well after the age of 50. As we age, our habits and needs change. How should we adapt our diet? The VeggiEat study examined the determining factors in the eating choices of the elderly in order to offer suggestions for appropriate recipes.

Evolving tastes

Taste consists of multiple combinations of flavours and aromas. Receptors in the tongue sense flavours and transmit them to the brain’s neurons. The threshold of taste perception depends on your learning but also on age. The loss and deterioration of receptors increase the threshold of taste perception in the elderly:

  • 2 times higher for salty tastes
  • 4 times higher for sweet tastes

The elderly in the VeggiEat study found the vegetarian burger bland, while adolescents said it was too sweet. These appreciation differences are a means to understanding the importance of adapting dietary choices, but also the increased risks of excess to make up for lack of flavour. Salt, butter or oil are often added to improve the taste of a dish. Such products, however, should be avoided to maintain health and to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.

Increasing needs

With age, our bodies change, and although physical activity can decrease, our needs increase. The risk of malnutrition in the elderly is linked to loss of appetite and the fact that a decrease in physical activity implies a lower protein intake. Animal-based proteins (eggs, fish and meat) or plant-based proteins, however, are vital to maintaining good health. The smart way to eat proteins is to combine them with a carbohydrate energy source (such as pasta or bread).

The intake of micronutrients is important to reduce the risks of cardiovascular disease and skin ageing. As a result, the consumption of vegetables is crucial for better vitamin intake. Digestive problems often occur with ageing and can also be reduced with a frequent intake of fiber contained in a majority of vegetables and complex cereals. The combination of leguminous plants, vegetables and cereals results in a diversified plant-based mix, both in texture and taste, that meets dietary needs.

Leguminous plants: great solutions!

During the study, the sensory characterisation of products revealed that older adults distinguish products according to texture more than to appearance. Leguminous plants pave the way for innovative cooking. These foods offer numerous nutritional advantages:

  • rich in protein,
  • rich in fiber,
  • glycemic regulator,
  • low fat content.

There are a large number of recipes for any time of day:

Check out the numerous leguminous plant recipes on the Pulse Pledge website.

To learn more, watch the interview with Ysabelle Levasseur