When you hear the word “diet,” it may conjure up notions of bland, boring food. So it might come as a pleasant surprise to learn that following a heart-healthy diet can actually be a lot more flavorful and interesting than you think!
If you want to keep your heart as strong as possible, use these expert tips to guide your eating choices. However, be sure to speak with a doctor before starting any new diet.
6 Tips To Eat a Heart-Healthy Diet
While there are many benefits that come with age, adults over the age of 65 are at a much higher risk to develop heart disease than younger people. There are several factors that contribute to this, including the metabolism slowing by as much as 30%, arteries and blood vessels stiffening, and elevated blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
Fortunately, these risks can be minimized for seniors by following a heart-healthy diet. Use these six tips to transform your eating habits and create a healthier future.
Focus On Fresh, Leafy Greens
Fresh, leafy greens are filled with essential vitamins and minerals that support heart health, as well as brain health. In fact, some studies show eating one cup of raw, nitrate-rich vegetables each day can significantly reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke and heart failure. Some common examples of greens high in nitrates include:
- Spinach (both red and green varieties)
- Bok choy
- Swiss chard
- Mustard greens
Eat Lean Proteins
The heart is the most important muscle in the body, and protein plays a critical role in muscle health for older adults. However, not all proteins are created equally. Some options like red meat or fatty meats such as bacon and sausage can actually increase the risk of heart disease and stroke. That’s why it’s important for seniors to get as much intake as possible from lean proteins. Some of the many different heart-healthy options include:
- Legumes, nuts and seeds
- White-fleshed fish
- Chicken, turkey and other poultry
- Greek yogurt and cottage cheese
- Egg whites
Choose Whole Grains
Beyond reducing the risk of heart disease, a diet rich in whole grains has other health benefits such as improved cholesterol levels, weight and blood pressure. Dietary guidelines suggest that at least half of all grains consumed should be whole grains. If you’re not sure about what choices are best, here are some of the top options:
- Brown rice
- Whole-wheat bread
- Cereals like bran flakes or shredded wheat
Pass On Highly Processed Foods
In simple terms, processed foods are any type of food that’s been changed from its natural state. Though some minimally processed foods such as roasted nuts and frozen fruits have strong health benefits, limit the amount of highly processed foods you consume. Highly processed foods contain a significant amount of unhealthy additives such as sugars, salts, oils and fats. To help your heart stay strong, steer clear of foods like:
- Soda and soft drinks
- Ice cream
- Canned soups and meats
- Hot dogs
- French fries
Cut Down on Sugar and Salt
When it comes to sugars and salts, it’s helpful to remember the phrase “everything in moderation.” Though they don’t need to be eliminated from your diet, a healthy eating tip is to monitor your overall intake. Too much salt can lead to high blood pressure, while too much sugar can increase blood sugar and lead to diabetes.
Limit Alcohol Intake
As we grow older, the effects of alcohol can often be felt more strongly. Unfortunately, this can cause health issues for seniors ranging from diabetes and high blood pressure to liver disease and osteoporosis. In addition to those risks, alcohol can have negative interactions with many common medications. An occasional indulgence isn’t typically cause for concern, as it’s recommended adults limit their consumption to two drinks or less in a day for men, or one drink or less in a day for women.
Focus On Your Health at Harbour’s Edge
At Harbour’s Edge, we’re dedicated to helping every resident reach their personal health goals. From crafting a custom wellness plan to offering fresh, chef-prepared meals in our many dining venues, we’re here to support your independence and make sure you get the most out of each day.