Did you know the #2 worry for seniors over 55 is their declining health? This comes as no surprise as health and wellness rise as a priority for Americans of all ages. As more consumers take steps like exercising regularly and eating a healthy diet, the path to great health habits may look a bit different for older Americans.

In L.E.K. Consulting’s Food and Beverage survey, 93 percent of consumers said they want to eat healthy at least some of the time. However, for a senior that has eaten the way they want for a majority of their lives, the shift to eating healthily can be a shock- and in some cases, confusing. Yet, a healthy diet improves health and quality of life for seniors. In this case, following a few basic rules can help you adopt healthier eating habits, even if it is later in life.

Why It Is More Important To Eat Healthily As You Age

While good nutrition is essential at any stage of life, seniors are more predisposed to medical conditions such as diabetes, osteoporosis, high blood pressure, and heart disease. All of these conditions mentioned above can also largely be controlled or prevented with the help of a good healthy diet. Your metabolism also slows as with age. This means the rate and way your body breaks down the food you eat changes. In addition to declining metabolism, many seniors also find their appetite declines. In this case, seniors face a high risk of not getting enough of the nutrients they need to support the aging process.

Make It A Lifestyle Change Instead Of A Crash Diet

Changing your eating habits should not be a short term fix to better health. Research has shown that those who approach diet changes as a ‘crash diet’ are more likely to resort back to their old eating habits. Start with making small changes to your diet so that you can have a higher chance of sticking to it without being overwhelmed. For instance, work on increasing your hydration levels or swapping out your snacks with fresh fruit. In one study, 31 percent of seniors were dehydrated.

Minimize The Salt

A diet with high salt content has been shown to increase the likelihood of high blood pressure, heart disease, and strokes. It is estimated that 30 to 50 percent of people over 50 live with chronic hypertension while 63.1 percent of aged 60 and older experienced hypertension. To combat the increased chances of hypertension, many health experts recommend reducing your salt intake.

An easy way to do to incorporate this into your diet is to begin avoiding foods that are high in sodium content like salted snacks, canned foods, butter, and fatty meats. According to the American Heart Association, the daily recommended sodium intake should be 1,500 milligrams (2,300 for seniors). However, many seniors average at least 3,400 milligrams daily. To add flavor to your dishes, try using herbs and spices when seasoning your food.

Alternatively, if you want variety and different flavors in your meals without the processed ingredients, a great way to do this is by getting personalized home cooking kits delivered regularly. Many meal subscription companies offer customers the chance to tailor their meals according to dietary preferences, which is perfect for seniors looking to control what they eat. As a bonus, with hundreds of meal ideas on rotation, the chances of you getting bored with the same meals are low.

Don’t Be Afraid To Define What Healthy Eating Looks Like To You

While there are some ground rules when it comes to healthy eating, that picture changes according to your age, medical needs, and lifestyle. So, it might be simpler to blindly follow eating guidelines from fitness blogs and instructors, it is always better to listen to your body. One good example: fiber is important to seniors as it can lower cholesterol and incidences of cancer. Therefore, work on increasing your fiber intake. Similarly, seniors with heart disease may want to focus on a heart-healthy diet which includes healthy fats, lean proteins, and fresh vegetables and fruits.

Everyone wants great health. That’s part of the reason Americans spend more money on healthcare than anything other expenses. While the road to great health can get a little rocky later life, eating healthy can be the perfect way to begin the journey. After all, its never too late.