Last Updated 09/09/2023

Eating well is important at any age, but it becomes especially critical as we get older. A nutritious diet helps elderly people manage age-related health conditions, recover from illnesses faster, and maintain strength, mobility, and independence.

This article will highlight 15 healthy Nigerian foods and suggest ways to incorporate them into the senior diet.

The foods are organized into categories. Each section will explain the key nutrients and health benefits offered by these ingredients. Simple preparation ideas and serving suggestions are also provided.

Let go to them right away...

Healthy Nigerian Foods For The Elderly

1. Leafy Green Vegetables

Leafy greens are packed with vitamins, minerals, fiber and antioxidants. Regularly eating leafy vegetables can help lower blood pressure and cholesterol, reduce inflammation, and support eye and bone health (1). Here are some nutritious options found in Nigeria:


  • Also known as fluted pumpkin leaves
  • High in fiber, vitamin A, vitamin C, calcium, and iron
  • Soups, stews, salads

Bitter Leaf

  • High in vitamin C, vitamin A, calcium, potassium
  • Helps detoxify the body
  • Soups, juice


  • High in vitamin K, vitamin A, folate, iron, calcium
  • Salads, smoothies, soups

Water Leaf

  • High in fiber, calcium, manganese
  • Helps digestion
  • Soups, stews


  • Also known as jute leaves
  • High in iron, calcium, vitamins A and C
  • Soups, stews

Checkout >> Ewedu soup recipe

2. Beans

Beans are an excellent plant-based source of protein, fiber, and important minerals like iron, potassium, and magnesium. They support heart health and help regulate blood sugar levels. Try these varieties:

Black-Eyed Peas

  • Also known as brown beans or lobia
  • High in fiber, protein, iron, potassium, magnesium
  • Soups, stews, akara fritters

Brown Beans

  • Also known as honey beans or oloyin beans
  • High in plant-based protein and fiber
  • Soups, porridge

3. Fish

Fish provide high-quality protein as well as omega-3 fatty acids, which are vital for heart and brain health. Choosing oily fish can help reduce inflammation and lower the risk of age-related diseases. Opt for:


  • High in omega-3s, protein, selenium
  • Support heart, immune and thyroid health
  • Grilled, baked, smoked


  • High in vitamin B12, selenium, omega-3s
  • Lowers risk of heart disease and stroke
  • Soups, smoked, grilled


  • Rich in protein, omega-3s, vitamin B12
  • Helps maintain muscle mass
  • Steamed, baked, fried

4. Whole Grains

Whole grains provide complex carbohydrates, fiber, and B vitamins. They help manage blood sugar levels and lower the risk of diabetes. Try these grains:

Brown Rice

  • High in manganese, selenium, magnesium
  • Helps regulate blood pressure
  • Jollof rice, coconut rice


  • High in magnesium, antioxidants, fiber
  • Helps lower cholesterol
  • Tuwo shinkafa, pap


  • Rich in methionine and cysteine (amino acids)
  • Helps regulate blood sugar
  • Fonio pudding, fonio couscous


  • Provides vitamin B6, magnesium, antioxidants
  • Supports eye health
  • Ogi, corn pap

5. Fruits

Fruits offer essential vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that support immunity, heart health, digestion and more. They also provide fiber to regulate bowel movements. Enjoy:


  • High in vitamin C, folate, potassium
  • Boost immune function
  • Eat fresh or make juice


  • Excellent source of lycopene and vitamin C
  • Reduce inflammation and risk of prostate cancer
  • Stew, salad, sauce


  • Rich in vitamin C, manganese, bromelain
  • Improve digestion and immunity
  • Eat fresh or make juice

Garden Eggs

  • Also known as eggplant
  • Provide fiber, potassium, vitamin C
  • Help lower cholesterol
  • Stew, sautéed, grilled


  • High water content keeps you hydrated
  • Provide lycopene, vitamin C, potassium
  • Eat fresh in fruit salad


  • Also known as guanabana
  • High in vitamin C, B vitamins, magnesium
  • Makes juice, ice cream, smoothies


  • Provide potassium, vitamin B6, vitamin C
  • Help manage blood pressure
  • Eat fresh or bake in breads

6. Nuts and Seeds

Nuts and seeds offer plant-based protein along with healthy fats and fiber. They help reduce inflammation and lower cholesterol. Enjoy:


  • High in protein, unsaturated fats, antioxidants
  • Help manage cholesterol levels
  • Boil, roast, or process into peanut butter

Cashew Nuts

  • Rich in heart-healthy fats, protein, magnesium
  • Reduce risk of cardiovascular disease
  • Eat raw, roasted, or in stir fries

Egusi Seeds

  • Also known as melon seeds
  • Provide protein, healthy fats, zinc, magnesium
  • Grind into egusi soup, stew, sauce

Checkout >> Delicious Egusi soup recipe

Sesame Seeds

  • Also known as benne seeds
  • High in calcium, magnesium, copper
  • Help strengthen bones and joints
  • Add to baked goods, salads, stir fries

7. Yogurt

Yogurt provides protein, calcium, probiotics, vitamin B12, and other nutrients. It supports bone, gut, heart, and metabolic health. Opt for:

  • Plain yogurt - Best source of probiotics. Eat with fruits, granola, or use in smoothies.
  • Flavored yogurt - Contains added sugars but provides probiotics. Opt for unsweetened varieties.
  • Fura da nono - Nigeria fermented yogurt drink.Offers probiotics.

Lean more about >> How to make Greek Yogurt

8. Unripe Plantains

Unripe plantains are rich in resistant starch, potassium, and vitamin C. They help regulate blood sugar levels and promote digestive health. Try:

  • Boiled unripe plantain - Mash and eat with stew or sauce.
  • Fried plantain chips - Slice thinly and pan fry into kpekere chips.

9. Eggs

Eggs provide high-quality protein along with iron, choline, lutein, and vitamins A, B12, and D. They support muscle, brain, eye, and bone health. Prepare boiled, scrambled, or:


  • Eggs cooked flat with vegetables, tomatoes, onions, cheese
  • Provides protein, vitamins, minerals

10. Chicken

Chicken offers lean protein along with selenium, niacin, vitamin B6, and other nutrients. It protects thyroid function, digestion, metabolism, and heart health. Enjoy in:

Chicken Stew

  • Simmer chicken in tomatoes, onions, spices
  • Serve over rice or pasta

Chicken Pepper Soup

  • Chicken simmered in broth with herbs and spices
  • Boosts immunity and eases congestion

11. Honey

Honey contains antioxidants, enzymes, and antimicrobial compounds. It helps soothe sore throats, suppress coughs, and promote wound healing. Use in:

  • Hot tea or lemon water
  • Oatmeal or yogurt
  • Desserts

12. Okra

Okra provides vitamin K, folate, fiber, and antioxidant compounds. It supports heart health, digestion, and immunity. Cook into:

Okra Soup

  • Okra stewed with seafood, meat, spices
  • Helps regulate blood sugar levels

Okra Salad

  • Okra, tomatoes, onion, vinegar
  • Provides fiber, vitamin C

13. Palm Oil

Palm oil is rich in vitamin E, beta-carotene, and antioxidants. It protects eye and heart health and supports strong immunity. Use for:

  • Palm oil rice - Adds flavor and nutrients
  • Palm oil yam - Provides antioxidants
  • Palm oil sauce - Creates rich, red sauce

14. Sweet Potatoes

Sweet potatoes offer complex carbs, fiber, vitamin A, vitamin C, and potassium. They help manage diabetes and lower blood pressure. Enjoy:

Boiled Sweet Potato

  • Provides antioxidants and fiber
  • Mash or dice and add veggies

Baked Sweet Potato

  • Natural sugars caramelize when baked
  • Top with butter, cinnamon, chocolate

15. Ginger

Ginger contains anti-inflammatory and antioxidant compounds like gingerol, shogaol, and zingiberene. It aids digestion, soothes nausea, relieves pain, and fights infections. Make:

  • Ginger tea - Soothes sore throat and coughs
  • Ginger soup - Boosts digestion and appetite
  • Ginger ale - Settles an upset stomach

Conclusion on Healthy Nigerian Foods For The Elderly

This article explored 15 healthy Nigerian foods that provide essential nutrients for seniors. Leafy greens, beans, fish, fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, spices, and other traditional ingredients offer vitamins, minerals, fiber, healthy fats, antioxidants, and anti-inflammatory compounds that protect elderly health. Consuming a balanced diet with these nutritious foods can help reduce the risk of chronic diseases while supporting strength and vitality well into old age.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are frequent questions and quick answers. 

What are the most important nutrients for elderly people?

Some of the key nutrients elderly people need more of include fiber, antioxidants, omega-3s, calcium, vitamin D, B vitamins, and protein. Nigerian foods like leafy greens, beans, fish, nuts, seeds, and whole grains provide many of these nutrients.

How can food help manage common senior health issues?

The right foods can help prevent and manage conditions like heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, osteoporosis, arthritis, dementia, and cancer in the elderly. Focus on antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables, anti-inflammatory fats, whole grains, lean proteins, low-fat dairy, and healthy spices.

What are some simple ways to cook healthy Nigerian meals?

Try sautéing leafy greens with onions and tomatoes for a quick side dish. Cook beans into a hearty stew or soup. Grill, bake or steam fish fillets seasoned with lemon and herbs. Make whole grain pilafs or add whole wheat flour to baked goods. Stir fry mixed vegetables with nuts, seeds or tofu.

Are there any foods elderly people should avoid?

Some foods seniors may want to limit are processed and packaged snacks high in sugar, salt and unhealthy fats; fatty red meats; sugary baked goods and desserts; and excess alcohol. Moderation is key for healthier aging.

How can I get my elderly parents to eat healthier?

Cook traditional dishes but use healthier cooking methods like baking, grilling or steaming instead of frying. Increase the amount of veggies and reduce meats in stews and soups. Replace white rice or potatoes with brown rice, yams or quinoa. Introduce new healthy foods gradually combined with favorites.

Let us know if you have any other questions!

What are your favorite healthy Nigerian foods to eat or cook for elderly family members? Do you have any recipes, tips, or suggestions to share? Let us know in the comments!

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