There are lots of visual reminders around 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 filled with heart-shaped balloons, cards, and boxes of candy. Because it’s also American Heart Month, it’s a great time to take steps to help the seniors we love to protect and strengthen the heart.
What Are the Best Foods for a Heart-Healthy Diet?
Make sure the fridge and pantry are stocked with plenty of the following foods for a heart-healthy diet:
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 help with regulating blood pressure and heart health.
Fruits and Vegetables
Variety is key, in both bright and deep colors: berries, melons, broccoli, peppers, kale, carrots, etc. Look for individual packages of prepared fruits and vegetables for a loved one who lives alone, or use larger quantities to prepare batches of chili, soup, or stew to freeze in smaller servings.
Legumes, Nuts, and Seeds
These foods are known to decrease bad cholesterol, and are an excellent way to add protein to the diet as well. Kidney beans, nuts, and chickpeas are great as they are, but consider alternative ways to serve them, for example, hummus and nut butters.
Even though they do contain cholesterol, eggs are chock full of protein and vitamins, and actually have a minimal impact on blood cholesterol. Check with the doctor if the senior is at risk for heart disease, but in most cases, consuming up to six eggs per week is a good rule of thumb.
Including fish in the diet a few times each week helps boost levels of good cholesterol. Mackerel and salmon specifically are rich in omega-3 fats. Although fresh fish is delicious, canned and frozen options offer the same nutrients.
It’s also important to be aware of what to avoid to safeguard the heart, such as:
- Saturated and trans fats
- A sedentary lifestyle
- Too much salt
- An unhealthy weight or BMI
- Excessive alcohol consumption
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 watch for heart-healthy choices.
At Inspired Home Care, a provider of Barrington senior care and home care services in the surrounding areas, our experienced and trained caregivers can help an older adult safeguard heart health in a variety of ways, such as:
- Reminding seniors to take medications at the prescribed time
- Picking up prescriptions
- Engaging in physician-approved exercise programs and taking walks together
- Providing transportation to medical tests, procedures, and appointments
- Grocery shopping and preparing nutritious meals, according to any prescribed dietary plan
- And much more