There are lots of visual reminders this time of the year that prompt us to think about that tremendously vital organ that works around the clock to help keep us healthy! Store shelves are full of heart-shaped balloons, boxes of candy, and cards. Because it’s also American Heart Month, it’s an ideal time to take steps to help the older adults we love protect and strengthen the heart. A good place to start is by being aware of the healthiest foods for seniors and ensuring they’re on the menu for the older adults you love.
What Are the Healthiest Foods for Seniors’ Hearts?
Make sure the pantry and fridge are stocked with an abundance of these heart-healthy products:
Legumes, Nuts, and Seeds
These foods are known to decrease bad cholesterol, and they are an excellent way to add protein to the diet as well. Chickpeas, kidney beans, and nuts are great as they are, however, consider alternative ways to serve them, for example, nut butters and hummus.
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 along with other nutrients, but they also help with regulating heart health and blood pressure.
Even though they do contain cholesterol, eggs are chock full of vitamins and protein, and actually have a very small impact on blood cholesterol. Speak with the physician if the older adult is at risk for cardiovascular disease, but in most cases, consuming up to six eggs each week is a good rule of thumb.
Fruits and Vegetables
Variety is key, both in bright and deep colors: berries, melons, peppers, kale, broccoli, carrots, etc. Look for individual packages of prepared fruits and vegetables for a loved one who lives alone, or use larger quantities to cook batches of soup, stew, or chili to freeze in smaller portions.
Including fish in the diet a couple of times each week helps boost levels of good cholesterol. Salmon and mackerel in particular are rich in omega-3 fats. While fresh fish is delicious, frozen and canned options provide the same nutrients.
It is also important to be aware of what to avoid to safeguard the heart, most notably:
- An unhealthy weight or BMI
- Saturated and trans fats
- Too much salt
- A sedentary lifestyle
- Excessive alcohol consumption
Use caution when dining out as well. Many restaurants include nutritional information on the menu or will provide it upon request. Meals high in sodium or unhealthy fats are not unusual, so look for heart-healthy choices.
At Hearts at Home In-Home Care, a provider of home care in Lenexa, KS and the surrounding communities, our experienced and trained caregivers can help an older adult safeguard heart health in many ways, including:
- Grocery shopping and planning and preparing nutritious meals, in accordance with any prescribed dietary plan
- Engaging in doctor-approved exercise programs and taking walks together
- Picking up prescriptions
- Reminding older adults to take medications at the prescribed time
- Providing transportation to medical appointments, tests, and procedures
- And more