There are lots of visual reminders during this time of the year that prompt us to think about that incredibly vital organ that works around the clock to help keep us healthy! Store shelves are full of heart-shaped balloons, cards, and boxes of candy. Because it’s also American Heart Month, it’s a great time to take steps to assist the seniors we love to strengthen and protect the heart.
What Are the Best Heart-Friendly Foods for Older Adults?
Be sure the pantry and fridge are stocked with lots of these heart-healthy items:
Seeds, Legumes, and Nuts
These foods have been shown to lower bad cholesterol, and are a terrific way to add protein to the diet as well. Chickpeas, kidney beans, and nuts are great as they are, but consider alternative ways to serve them, for example, hummus and nut butters.
Including fish in the diet several times per week helps boost levels of good cholesterol. Mackerel and salmon in particular are high in omega-3 fats. Although fresh fish is delicious, canned and frozen varieties provide the same nutrients.
Fruits and Veggies
Variety is key, both in bright and deep 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 cook batches of soup, stew, or chili to freeze in smaller servings.
Even though they do contain cholesterol, eggs are chock full of vitamins and protein, and actually have a very small effect on blood cholesterol. Speak with the physician if the senior is at risk for cardiovascular disease, but in most instances, eating up to six eggs per 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 a great source of fiber along with other nutrients, but they also assist with regulating blood pressure and heart health.
It’s also important to know what to avoid to safeguard the heart, most notably:
- Excessive alcohol consumption
- An unhealthy weight or BMI
- A sedentary lifestyle
- Saturated and trans fats
- 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 common, so look for heart-healthy choices.
At At-Home Care Company, a trusted provider of Boone home care and senior care throughout the surrounding areas, our trained and experienced caregivers can help older adults maintain heart health in many ways, including:
- Reminding seniors to take medications at the prescribed time
- Picking up prescriptions
- Engaging in doctor-approved exercise programs and taking walks together
- Grocery shopping and preparing healthy meals, according to any prescribed dietary plan
- Providing transportation to medical tests, procedures, and appointments
- And more