Weston Seeding Stronger Communities

Seeding Food Innovation

Awarded Project 2017

Nutrition in Disguise: Improving the nutritional quality of foods for older adults

Project Description

The overall goal of this research is to develop food recipes that are rich in vitamins, minerals and other food components known to support the physical and mental health of older adults. A variety of enhanced food recipes will be initially designed for older adults living in residences with applicability to pre-frail and frail older adults living in the community. It is hypothesized that the nutrient (protein and vitamins and minerals) density and anti-oxidant (i.e. phytochemical) potential of menus used in residential environments can be improved in a cost-effective manner with the inclusion of several enhanced food recipes designed for this population. This will be achieved by identifying high nutrient ingredients that can be incorporated into recipes of foods that are highly consumed by this segment. Initial work will summarize what we know from existing literature about micronutrient deficiencies and interventions with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants to improve the health of older adults. Foods commonly consumed that can be enhanced to promote their nutritional density (e.g. more nutrients in less calories) will be identified and recipes developed and tested with older adults living in the community and in residences. Products that pass this testing will then be introduced into a residence menu rotation to determine if they are well accepted by residents. A cost benefit of introducing these new products into a residence menu will be demonstrated by showing the gains in nutritional quality of the menu for the cost of producing these products in the home.

Relevance to the field of food innovation

Currently, older adults, especially those who are frail or live in residences, do not consume adequate nutrition to optimize their health. Micronutrient inadequacies are a potential problem. Research to date suggests that diet can also be supportive for delaying frailty and slowing the progression of dementia. Yet, food choices and offerings can be low in nutrition. Cost effective, innovative recipes that used common ingredients to reach nutrition goals for older adults are needed.

Anticipated outcome

Up to 10 enhanced recipes that have been developed for residences will be developed and tested for palatability. Knowledge tools will be created for home chefs on how to incorporate nutrient dense ingredients into recipes and how to use the information gained in this project for menu planning.


Dr. Heather Keller

Dr. Heather Keller

Heather H. Keller, PhD, RD is a Professor in the Department of Kinesiology at the University of Waterloo and the Nutrition & Aging Research Chair, Schlegel-University of Waterloo Research Institute for Aging. Professor Keller also co-chairs the Canadian Malnutrition Task Force, a standing committee of the Canadian Nutrition Society and is a senior research scientist with the Agri-Food for Healthy Aging research Group. » More Info

Dr. Lisa Duizer

Dr. Lisa Duizer

Lisa Duizer is an Associate Professor in the Department of Food Science at the University of Guelph. She obtained her PhD in Food Technology from Massey University in New Zealand. She also has an MSc in Food Science and a BASc in Applied Human Nutrition. Within the Department of Food Science, Dr Duizer teaches food product development and sensory evaluation courses to undergraduate students. » More Info

Dr. Alison Duncan

Dr. Alison Duncan

Alison M. Duncan, Ph.D., R.D. is a Professor and Associate Director of Research at the Human Nutraceutical Research Unit, in the Department of Human Health and Nutritional Sciences at the University of Guelph. She also serves as the Research Program Director for the Food for Health Program in the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) – University of Guelph Partnership. » More Info