July 29, 2020
Many family caregivers worry that their older family members aren’t eating a healthy diet. One thing they may worry about is the older adult eating too much fat. In the past, people were told to cut fat from their diets. While it’s true that eating too much fat is unhealthy, some fat is necessary for good health. However, by choosing healthy fats, you can ensure the senior’s diet is complete.
Unhealthy Fats vs. Healthy Fats
Fats fall into two main groups, healthy and unhealthy. Unhealthy fats tend to be solid at room temperature. There are two main kinds of fats that should be eliminated or excluded from your aging relative’s diet. They are:
Saturated Fat: Saturated fat is mostly found in animal products, like red meat and full-fat dairy products. They are considered bad fats because they raise cholesterol levels. Having high cholesterol puts your aging relative at risk for cardiovascular disease.
Trans Fat: Trans fat is considered the most dangerous kind of fat. They are created through a processing method called partial hydrogenation. Trans fat increases bad cholesterol in the blood and lowers good cholesterol. Again, it can increase the risk of cardiovascular disease.
There are three main kinds of healthy fats. They are:
Monounsaturated Fat: This kind of fat is found in lots of different kinds of foods and oils. When an older adult replaces saturated fat in their diet with monounsaturated fat, it can help them to lower cholesterol levels. This helps to decrease the risk of heart disease and diabetes.
Polyunsaturated Fat: This kind of fat comes mainly from plant-based sources. Again, when unhealthy fat is replaced by polyunsaturated fat, it can lower cholesterol levels.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Omega-3s are found in fatty fish. They are believed to be especially healthy for the heart.
Sources of Healthy Fats
There are many different kinds of foods that contain healthy fats. Try adding some of them into your older adult’s meals while also slowly decreasing sources of unhealthy fats. Some foods that contain healthy fats are:
Home care can help your older family member to eat a healthier diet. Home care providers can take the senior grocery shopping and help them to make good food choices. Home care providers can also prepare meals and snacks for them that contain healthy fats. If the older adult enjoys cooking but needs some assistance, the home care provider can allow them to do as much as they can and provide assistance as needed, allowing them to remain as independent as possible.