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Heart-Healthy Foods for Seniors: What the Latest Studies Show

Heart-Healthy Foods for Seniors: What the Latest Studies Show

Changing your eating habits isn’t exactly a piece of cake, but fine-tuning your diet can decrease your risk for heart disease, prevent other diseases, and even give you more energy. Here is some good news: you don’t have to make drastic changes to reap significant health benefits.

Making small, daily changes to your diet can have lasting effects on your heart health. Here are five tips for seniors.

1. Limit your sodium intake: Eat more meals at home

Sodium is an essential mineral everyone needs in their diet. But here’s the problem: many Americans consume too much sodium, affecting their heart health. According to the American Heart Association, “more than 70% of the sodium we consume comes from packaged, prepared and restaurant foods.”

Packaged and prepared foods, including restaurant meals, have more salt than the average prepare-at-home meal to make them more flavorful. However, that extra flavor comes at a price—an increased risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, and stroke.

Commit to eating more meals at home and cooking with less salt. If you find that your meals could be more flavorful, play around with different herbs and seasonings to create more savory dishes.

2. Eat the rainbow

Eating whole foods like fruits and vegetables gives your body the essential minerals and vitamins it needs to thrive and stave off diseases. These foods are high in beta-carotene and vitamin C, antioxidants that can slow cholesterol buildup in your arteries. If you’re afraid of fruits and vegetable spoiling before you can eat them, purchase frozen fruits and vegetables.

Some ways to eat more fruits and vegetables include:

  • Keeping a bowl of fruit on the counter
  • Eat one or two plant-based meals a week
  • Have a salad each day for lunch with plenty of crunchy veggies
  • Drink a daily smoothie with your favorite fruits and vegetables

3. Eat whole grains

Are you someone who loves their bread? A heart-healthy diet doesn’t have to mean giving up bread. You simply need to adjust your bread-eating habits. Instead of eating refined white bread with minimal nutritional value, switch to whole grains, which are excellent sources of dietary fiber. The human body needs fiber because it improves blood cholesterol levels and helps lower your risk of heart disease, stroke, obesity and even type 2 diabetes.

4. Add more healthy fats to your pantry

Lowering your blood cholesterol is one of the best ways to reduce your risk of coronary artery disease. Eating more fruits and vegetables helps you do this, but so does limiting your intake of saturated and trans fats. Examples of healthy fats to cook and bake with include:

  • Olive oil
  • Canola oil
  • Vegetable oils
  • Trans fat-free margarine

5. Eat more low-fat protein sources

Fat gets a bad rap, but you need a certain amount of fat in your diet. The problem is that most people get too much fat from the wrong protein sources. Research from the University of California San Francisco (UCSF) recommends that the optimal heart-healthy diet includes no more than 35 percent of calories from fat.

Eat healthier and consume low-fat protein sources, such as eggs, soybeans, skinless poultry, cold-water fish like salmon, and lean ground meats.

Other eating tips to keep your heart healthy

Eating the right foods is important, but there are other things to do to keep your heart beating strong. Here are some other tips that support a heart-healthy diet:

  • Control your portion sizes: Make a fist to determine the amount a portion of food should be. Remember, what you normally eat at a restaurant is never portion-controlled; it’s always too much!
  • Eat slowly: Many people eat their food too fast and don’t realize when they’re full until they’re uncomfortable. Slowly eating helps you enjoy your food more, helps with proper digestion, and keeps you from overeating.
  • Plan meals: Creating daily meal plans helps you make better food choices. Once a week, plan out your meals for the next seven days and focus on cooking meals high in lean protein sources, vegetables, heart-healthy fats, and whole grains.

Finally, if you have high cholesterol, coronary artery disease, or other heart conditions, speak with your medical professionals to decide the best diet for your needs. Working with a nutritionist is an excellent way to ensure you get the nutrients you need and eat a heart-healthy diet.

Our gated retirement community in Maplewood, NJ offers everything you could possibly want, including delicious dining options, social activities that cater to a wide variety of interests, amazing architecture from famed architects, and landscaping from the family that designed iconic Central Park. Contact us to schedule a visit today.

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