There are plenty of visual reminders during this time of the year that prompt us to think about that exceedingly vital organ that works around the clock to help keep us healthy! Store shelves are overflowing with heart-shaped balloons, cards, and boxes of candy. Since it’s also American Heart Month, it is the perfect time to take steps to help the seniors we love to strengthen and protect the heart.
What Are the Best Foods for Senior Heart Health?
Be sure the fridge and pantry are stocked with lots of these heart-healthy items:
Seeds, Legumes, and Nuts
These foods are known to reduce bad cholesterol, and they are an excellent way to add protein into the diet as well. Kidney beans, nuts, and chickpeas are great as they are, however, consider alternative ways to serve them, like hummus and nut butters.
Fruits and Vegetables
Variety is key, in both deep and bright colors: berries, melons, peppers, kale, broccoli, carrots, etc. Look for individual packages of prepared vegetables and fruit for an older adult who lives alone, or use larger quantities to prepare batches of soup, stew, or chili to freeze in smaller portions.
Swap out the refined white flour and bread for whole wheat, oats, rye, or other whole grains. Not only are they a good source of fiber and other nutrients, but they also assist with regulating blood pressure and heart health.
Including fish in the diet several times a week helps boost levels of good cholesterol. Salmon and mackerel in particular are high in omega-3 fats. Although fresh fish is delicious, frozen and canned options offer the same nutrients.
Although they do contain cholesterol, eggs are chock full of vitamins and protein, and actually have a minimal impact on blood cholesterol. Check with the physician if the older adult is at risk for cardiovascular disease, but in most cases, eating up to six eggs each week is a good rule of thumb.
It’s also important to know what to avoid to protect the heart, such as:
- Excessive alcohol consumption
- A sedentary lifestyle
- Saturated and trans fats
- Too much salt
- An unhealthy weight or BMI
Use caution when eating out as well. Many restaurants include nutritional information on the menu or will provide it upon request. Meals high in salt or unhealthy fats are not unusual, so watch for heart-healthy choices.
- Grocery shopping and preparing healthy meals, according to any prescribed dietary plan
- Reminding older adults to take medications at the prescribed time
- Picking up prescriptions
- Engaging in physician-approved exercise programs and taking walks together
- Providing transportation to medical appointments, tests, and procedures
- And more