Posted on Dec 18, 2019 in Senior Health
Eating a balanced diet with plenty of heart healthy options becomes increasingly important as you get older.
More than 1 in 3 American adults have some form of cardiovascular disease. Of these 86 million people, 43.7 million are aged 60+. This is not especially surprising. As you age, your blood pressure and cholesterol are likely to rise along with other heart-related issues.
What can you do, then, to improve your odds of avoiding heart problems in your golden years?
Well, today we’ll explore the best foods you can incorporate into your diet in order to stay healthy, while avoiding the processed foods that can trigger heart problems when eaten to excess.
Before we probe specific heart healthy options, we’ll run through some general pointers that will help you remain robust and more resistant to cardiovascular disease.
Before even thinking about diet, make sure you’re doing enough physical activity. The American Heart Association recommends 150 minutes of exercise each week.
If you’re struggling to get in this amount of activity – and for many seniors, it’s just not practical – fill in as much as you feel comfortable with. Any activity is better than none at all.
You should then consider the following broad areas of nutrition:
With that heart-healthy foundation in place, make sure your shopping list includes plenty of the following:
Fish is the finest source of omega-3 fatty acids. These have been shown to lower your blood triglyceride levels and minimize the chance of irregular heartbeats. Omega-3s can also slow down the accumulation of the plaque that clogs your arteries.
Fatty acids can also help to lower your blood pressure so get at least a couple of servings of salmon each week.
If you don’t like salmon, try tuna, sardines, or mackerel instead.
Oats are laden with soluble fiber which can help lower LDL cholesterol levels. Soluble fiber can also improve blood pressure while generally lowering your risk of heart disease.
Barley also works well, and both these whole grains work well to keep you feeling full throughout the day on a budget.
Leafy greens are low in calories while also packed with fiber, calcium, and folate. Folate is a nutrient that encourages overall heart health.
Kale is one of the best choices at your disposal. Spinach, collards, Swiss chard, and beet greens also come with all the fiber and antioxidants you need to stay strong as you age.
Rich in monounsaturated fats, avocados are indulgent and mouth-watering while promoting heart health at the same time.
From a slice of avocado toast at breakfast to a taco feast in the evening, treat yourself to some avocados when you’re shopping and your heart will thank you.
Nuts are also filled with heart-healthy monounsaturated fats. Try some almonds, pistachios or walnuts if your cholesterol levels are out of line.
Walnuts also contain omega-3 fatty acids known for heart health benefits.
How about beans or lentils? Both provide plenty of protein and fiber so consider using these instead of high-fat meats if you’re making burgers.
A plant-based protein made from soy beans, tofu is fiber-rich and high in polyunsaturated fats while low in saturated fat. You’ll get an array of vitamins and minerals, too.
Mushrooms are loaded with fiber and also deliver more than 10% of the RDA of potassium. Potassium can help lower blood pressure.
The primary benefit of tomatoes for heart health is the lycopene content. Lycopene is a powerful antioxidant that can also influence blood pressure and improve overall heart health.
The benefit of lycopene is compounded when tomatoes are cooked, so throw some in a pasta sauce and let them gently simmer.
Blackberries, blueberries, and raspberries are all dense in fiber, vitamins, and polyphenols. Research has shown these are all beneficial for minimizing the risk of cardiovascular disease.
If you don’t get out shopping as much as you’d like to, freeze some berries so you always have some on hand. Double up by popping some in your oatmeal and get a super-serving of hearty healthy food to start your day.
With monounsaturated fats – commonly known as good fats – good quality olive oil should be a staple in your pantry.
Brimming with antioxidants and capable of lowering your LDL cholesterol levels, treat yourself to a nice bottle of extra virgin olive oil and you’ll feel the immediate benefit.
If you’re starting to find cooking for yourself becoming more difficult, you might benefit from assisted living. You’ll get all the help you need to eat a diet rich in heart healthy options as well as assistance with daily activities and household tasks. Get in touch with us here at Landmark Senior Living to learn about our chef prepared culinary program and how it can make life easier on your loved one. To plan a tour at one of our five historic assisted living facilities ranging from assisted living in Hobbs, to memory care in Beverly, contact us today.