9 Foods to Scratch Off the Menu for Seniors


Maybe you’ve always been a food connoisseur. Or you just haven’t worried much about avoiding certain foods. That’s great, but as you age it’s harder for your body to fight off bacteria or recover from a foodborne illness.

Been there, done that? If you know the feeling, you probably don’t want to go back there. Right? 

If you’re a senior, eating the right foods can keep you healthy for years to come. And avoiding certain foods will help you avoid GI issues, stomach aches, and infections that can make you sick and take a toll on your health. 

Here are 9 foods seniors should avoid:

1. Low-fat foods

Low-fat food gets a lot of marketing buzz. But you’re better off eating healthy fats, and avoiding foods high in transfats and saturated fats. Foods that contain healthy fats include nuts, fish, milk, yogurt, and meals made with olive oil.

2. Oysters, clams & mussels

These foods are high on the list for seafood lovers. But they’re often consumed raw. And that’s a problem. Raw seafood can be contaminated with bacteria that can lead to serious GI issues, vomiting, diarrhea, and ultimately dehydration. If you are going to eat oysters, clams, and mussels, make sure they’re thoroughly cooked.

3. Raw eggs

There’s a classic scene in the movie Rocky, where the up-and-coming boxer drinks a dozen raw eggs pureed in a blender. Don’t do this, OK! Raw eggs can contain salmonella, and make you violently ill...or worse.

If you are going to eat eggs, make sure they’re thoroughly cooked. Well-done scrambled eggs or a hard boiled egg are both good options.

4. Raw meat

Some delicacy dishes are served with thin slices of raw steak. FYI...the risk for bacteria in raw meat is high. You have no idea where it’s been or how long it’s been sitting on a counter in the food-prep process. Stick with meat cooked to the correct temperature, because it kills bacteria.

5. Soft cheese

Here’s the problem with soft cheeses like blue cheese, Brie, and others. They’re usually made from unpasteurized dairy products. What’s the big deal? Soft cheeses are more likely to grow bacteria, which can make you very sick, especially if you’re older or have a weakened immune system. Got a cheese craving, go with Cheddar, Monterey jack, or swiss instead.

6. Sprouts

Sprouts get a lot of buzz as a superfood. But many produce-related food recalls are related to sprouts. Why? When the seeds for broccoli, alfalfa, or beans start to grow, they can grow bacteria, too. When that happens, the bacteria gets trapped inside the seed. And if you eat it, you’re going to get sick. Maybe even very sick...or worse.

Hungry for plant-based foods packed with vitamins and nutrients? Skip the sprouts and eat more leafy greens like spinach, broccoli, kale, and Swiss chard.

7. Sushi

Most sushi is made from what? Raw fish. Even at the most high-end restaurant, there’s no guarantee raw fish doesn’t contain harmful bacteria that can make you sick. Want sushi? Go with options made from smoked salmon or cooked shrimp.

8. Unpasteurized juice

But juice is supposed to be healthy? If that’s what you’re thinking, you’re not alone. Here’s the thing. Think about all the touchpoints fresh fruit has to go through before it’s ready to drink. It’s a lot. And that opens the door to bacteria that can make you sick. Juice can be good for you. Just go with the pasteurized options.

10. Unpasteurized milk

It might be one of the most divisive on this list. Lots of people have been drinking unpasteurized milk for decades. Maybe you did as a kid. The potential for unpasteurized milk becoming contaminated with bacteria that can make you sick is high. It’s not worth the risk. If you are going to drink milk, stick with pasteurized milk.

So what should a Senior-Friendly meal look like? Check out the complete list of meal options, all made from fresh ingredients. Pick your favorites, and you’ll have your next meal ready in minutes.