Keeping Our Aging Parents’ Vision “Kale” & Hearty

October 19, 2012

Aging parents need to watch out for macular degenertaion

Wouldn’t it be great if we could all eat whatever we wanted? As an old greeting card said, “I’m waiting for chocolate air!” Of course, the reality is that all of us need to watch our diets to make sure we’re getting the nutrients we need, and that goes double for seniors.

Aging parents need green leafy vegetables

One of the most beneficial additions to a diet is eating plenty of green leafy vegetables, such as kale. These vegetables may be especially important when it comes to fighting Macular Degeneration, a major cause of blindness and other visual problems in people over 50 years of age. One cup of cooked kale has about 10.3 mg of a substance called lutein; one Harvard study found that people who consumed 6 mg of lutein every day were 43% less likely to develop Macular Degeneration than those who did not.

So adding kale (along with spinach, collard greens, and other green leafy vegetables) to your aging parents’ diets can be one way of helping to prevent Macular Degeneration. Of course, it also helps that kale is low in saturated fats, calories, and cholesterol. It’s also low on the glycemic index, so it’s a good food for those with glucose issues.

The problem is that not everyone likes kale. On its own and eaten raw, kale can have something of a bitter taste, but when combined with other ingredients, it can add a pleasant flavor.

A tasty, easy kale recipe

This is one of my favorite ways of preparing kale, and it’s very easy. (This is one of those “modify to taste” recipes, so feel free to change the amounts to suit your own tastes.)

  1. Get a nice, big bunch of kale from store. Tear the leaves from the stems; I like to separate the stems totally, but many like the taste of the stems and include them as well. You can also buy bags of kale that are already cut into pieces.
  2. Boil the leaves in a pot of water for about 20 minutes, or, even better, steam the leaves instead. Steaming keeps more of the vitamins and nutrients intact.
  3. In a big pan, sauté an onion and a tablespoon or so of olive oil. Add the cooked kale leaves, along with a cup of tomato sauce, ¼ to ½ cup of feta cheese (or a low-fat alternative that you prefer) and ¼ to ½ cup of black pitted olives. Cover and simmer over a medium flame for 10 minutes.

Some people find that the acidity of the tomato sauce can be a problem for their senior loved ones. If this is an issue, you can try substituting a pesto sauce instead. Alternatively, try mixing in an egg white with the sauce.

The internet is full of recipes for kale (kale soup, kale chips, kale salad, etc.), so finding a way of sneaking in some kale is pretty easy.

I used to avoid kale; now I eat it at least once a week and miss it when I skip it. Think about adding kale and other green leafy veggies to your parents’ diets, and to your own, too! Of course, check with your doctors first if you think there may be a reason not to introduce new foods into an established diet.

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Writer, Craig Butler

Craig Butler has been writing on a wide range of topics for more than fifteen years. As the National Communications Director for the Cooley's Anemia Foundation, Craig regularly writes on a range of health and medical topics. Among the many projects he has written for the Foundation is the Cooley's Anemia Storybook, a collection of original short stories for children with the blood disorder Cooley's Anemia. His freelance work has ranged from reviewing moves and CDs to creating entertainment-related stories about baldness, to creating text for comic strips. Craig looks forward to having a dialogue with you about senior care and issues of concern.

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