There are many visual reminders 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 full of heart-shaped balloons, boxes of candy, and cards. Since it’s also American Heart Month, it is an ideal time to take steps to help loved ones protect and strengthen the heart, including ensuring the diet is filled with heart-healthy foods for older adults.
What Are the Best Heart-Healthy Foods for Older Adults?
Make sure the pantry and fridge are stocked with an abundance of these heart-healthy foods for older adults:
While eggs do contain cholesterol, they are chock full of vitamins and protein, and actually have a minimal effect on blood cholesterol. Speak with the doctor if the older adult is at risk for heart disease, but in most instances, eating up to six eggs each week is a good rule of thumb.
Swap out the refined white flour and bread for whole wheat, oats, rye, or other whole grains. Not only are they an excellent source of fiber and other nutrients, but they also assist with regulating heart health and blood pressure.
Seeds, Legumes, and Nuts
These foods are known to decrease bad cholesterol, and are a great 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, such as nut butters and hummus.
Including fish in the diet a few times per week helps increase levels of good cholesterol. Salmon and mackerel in particular are high in omega-3 fats. Although fresh fish is delicious, canned and frozen options offer the same nutrients.
Vegetables and Fruits
Variety is key, in both deep and bright colors: berries, melons, peppers, kale, broccoli, carrots, etc. Look for individual packages of prepared vegetables and fruits for an older adult who lives alone, or use larger quantities to prepare batches of chili, soup, or stew to freeze in smaller servings.
It’s also important to know what to avoid to safeguard the heart, such as:
- Saturated and trans fats
- An unhealthy weight or BMI
- A sedentary lifestyle
- Excessive alcohol consumption
- Too much salt
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.
At Compassionate Nursing Services, an award-winning provider of home care in Frontenac, MO and the surrounding areas, our experienced and trained caregivers can help an older adult safeguard heart health in a variety of ways, including:
- Picking up prescriptions
- Engaging in doctor-approved exercise programs and taking walks together
- Grocery shopping and preparing nutritious meals, in accordance with any prescribed dietary plan
- Reminding older adults to take medications at the prescribed time
- Providing transportation to medical tests, procedures, and appointments
- And more