There are lots of visual reminders this time of the year that prompt us to think about that exceedingly vital organ that works around the clock to 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 assist the older adults we love to strengthen and protect the heart.
What Are the Best Foods for Older Adult Heart Health?
Be sure the pantry and fridge are stocked with plenty of these heart-healthy items:
Replace the refined white flour and bread with whole wheat, oats, rye, or other whole grains. Not only are they a great source of fiber along with other nutrients, but they also help with regulating heart health and blood pressure.
Vegetables and Fruits
Variety is key, in both bright and deep colors: melons, berries, broccoli, peppers, kale, carrots, etc. Look for individual packages of prepared vegetables and fruits for a loved one who lives alone, or use larger quantities to cook batches of soup, stew, or chili to freeze in smaller portions.
Seeds, Legumes, and Nuts
These foods have been shown to reduce bad cholesterol, and are also a terrific 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, such as nut butters and hummus.
Including fish in the diet a few times per 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 varieties offer the same nutrients.
Although eggs do contain cholesterol, they are chock full of vitamins and protein, and actually have a very small influence on blood cholesterol. Speak with the physician if the individual is at risk for heart disease, but in most cases, consuming up to six eggs per week is a good rule of thumb.
It is also important to be aware of what to avoid to protect the heart, most notably:
- A sedentary lifestyle
- Excessive alcohol consumption
- An unhealthy weight or BMI
- Too much salt
- Saturated and trans fats
Use caution when eating 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 Live Free Home Health Care, one of the leading senior care companies in Concord, NH and the surrounding areas, our trained and experienced caregivers can help a senior maintain heart health in a variety of ways, including:
- Reminding seniors to take medications at the prescribed time
- Picking up prescriptions
- Providing transportation to medical appointments, tests, and procedures
- Grocery shopping and planning and preparing nutritious meals, in accordance with any prescribed dietary plan
- Engaging in physician-approved exercise programs and taking walks together
- And more