3. Whole-Grain Breakfast Cereal
Skip the sugary flakes and choose a breakfast cereal made with whole grains -- and only small amounts of added sugar. The first ingredient should be a whole grain. On a cold winter day, steel-cut hot oatmeal is a great choice. By adding a few raisins or fresh fruit, you can make cereal sweeter without piling on sugar. "Pour low-fat milk on top and you’ve got a well-balanced meal," says Zelman.
Nuts, like eggs, have been welcomed back into a healthy kitchen. Sure, they are high in fat. "But the oil in nuts is mostly unsaturated, so it won’t raise heart disease risk," says Penny Kris-Etherton, PhD, professor of nutrition at Pennsylvania State University. Studies show that people who snack on nuts have healthier hearts and are less likely to be overweight. If your grandkids aren't keen on nuts, make up your own trail mix by adding raisins, dark chocolate chips, or pieces of dried coconut to a package of mixed nuts. Another great choice: peanut butter. "Kids love it, and you can smear it on toast for breakfast or a sandwich at lunch. Peanut butter on celery sticks also makes a great snack," says Zelman.
Beans and lentils are nutritional powerhouses. They’re rich sources of fiber, protein, and many essential nutrients. Beans are also very satisfying, so you'll feel full before you pile on too many calories. And they’re versatile. Baked beans are a great way to whet kids' appetites for beans. Lots of kids also love chili and classic summer salads made with a mix of beans.
6. Tuna and Other Fish
Fish is a leading source of omega-3 fats, which are important at all ages. And it's heart-healthy food. Research shows that omega-3 fats lower the risk of abnormal heart rhythms and levels of blood fats (triglycerides). Some research suggests a link to reduced risk of dementia, as well as help for joint problems and symptoms of ADHD.
7. Whole-Grain Bread
Who doesn't love bread? Bread features in everything from French toast in the morning to sandwiches at lunch and bread pudding for dessert at night. The smartest choice, of course, is whole-grain bread, which packs more fiber and nutrients than refined-flour breads. Breads made with seeds or nuts pack even more nutrition. Studies show that people who eat more whole grains lower their risk of diabetes, heart disease, and other conditions, Zelman adds.
For people with blurred vision, Coste says, "White bread is eaten much less than wheat or pumpernickel. It's a visual thing, not a taste thing." So if you're an adult child who occasionally grocery shops for your parents, pick up a loaf of whole-grain bread and see if they prefer it.
For people with obesity, diabetes, or prediabetes, keep bread portion sizes small. And there are lots of gluten-free choices for people who cannot tolerate gluten.