By Francis Taylor, Executive Editor
As a senior member of the City of Inglewood community for over 30 years, I have firsthand the fondest memories of the city’s transformation, with a city council that evolved into one of the most forward-thinking and productive in the nation. As an Inglewood Unified School District History and English teacher in the city before the turn of the century and later as a business owner and newspaper journalist, I have too many memories, as do all of us seniors have, that there is time to share here.
What I want to do now is remind my senior colleagues of what is necessary for us to be able to continue our contributions to our family, our neighbors, and the Inglewood community. While we cannot directly impact the genetic material provided by our ancestors, that contributes to our longevity, we certainly are able to do our part to extend our time on earth to travel, spend time with our grandchildren, or do whatever on earth we choose to do…because we have earned it.
The recent passing of NFL football hall of famer Jim Brown and musical performing icon Tina Turner is a reminder of what is in store for all of us. Those legends, with their fame and wealth, enjoyed the most life-sustaining lifestyle anyone could imagine. However, since I have never made a touchdown or earned a musical Grammy, I sought to learn what might extend my senior existence. And the answer is DIET!
A Mediterranean-style diet can help me and you achieve the American Heart Association’s recommendations for a healthy dietary pattern that: emphasizes vegetables, fruits, whole grains, beans and legumes; includes low-fat or fat-free dairy products, fish, poultry, non-tropical vegetable oils and nuts; and limits added sugars, sugary beverages, sodium, highly processed foods, refined carbohydrates, saturated fats, and fatty or processed meats.
This style of eating can play a big role in preventing heart disease and stroke and reducing risk factors such as obesity, diabetes, high cholesterol and high blood pressure. There is some evidence that a Mediterranean diet rich in virgin olive oil may help the body remove excess cholesterol from arteries and keep blood vessels open.
There are many other benefits of a healthy diet. The healthiest eaters at age 50 had a nearly 90% lower risk of dementia compared with those who had the least healthy diets. The Mediterranean diet has been proven to boost brain health as well as improve heart health.
Here are the variety of foods included in the Mediterranean diet: vegetables: tomatoes, broccoli, kale, spinach, onions, cauliflower, carrots, Brussels sprouts, cucumbers, potatoes, sweet potatoes, turnips. fruits: apples, bananas, oranges, pears, strawberries, grapes, dates, figs, melons, peaches. nuts, seeds, and nut butters: almonds, walnuts, macadamia nuts, hazelnuts, cashews, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, almond butter, peanut butter, legumes: beans, peas, lentils, pulses, peanuts, chickpeas. whole grains: oats, brown rice, rye, barley, corn, buckwheat, whole wheat bread and pasta, fish and seafood: salmon, sardines, trout, tuna, mackerel, shrimp, oysters, clams, crab, mussels, and poultry: chicken, duck, and turkey. eggs: chicken, quail, and duck eggs, dairy: cheese, yogurt, milk, herbs, and spices: garlic, basil, mint, rosemary, sage, nutmeg, cinnamon, healthy fats: extra virgin olive oil, olives, avocados, and avocado oil.
This diet is perfect if you want to overhaul your entire senior lifestyle—and while eating locally and seasonally is great, the best part is that if that stresses you out, you can still eat more with a Mediterranean diet.