The top heart-healthy foods for seniors include fish, nuts, berries, vegetables, and whole grains. These foods aren’t magic prevention for heart problems, but each of these foods can support a healthy heart in one way or another.
Eating a healthy, balanced diet is important for anyone regardless of age. But it can become increasingly difficult for a senior to maintain a healthy diet, unless they have the support of a loved one or professional caregiver. This highlights the value that a senior living community can provide an aging adult through high-quality, nutritious meals.
Foods to Support Heart Health
Let’s explore some of the top foods a senior can eat to support their heart health.
Fish is an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids, which have been shown to reduce an individual’s risk of heart disease and stroke. The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends eating fish at least twice a week. An emphasis should be placed on fatty fish, such as salmon, sardines, tuna, whitefish, trout, or mackerel. These fish typically have higher levels of omega-3s, which can benefit your heart.
Nuts are high in healthy fats, protein, and fiber, which makes them an excellent snack option for many seniors if there are no allergies. The research indicates that individuals who eat nuts regularly have a lower risk of heart attacks or death from heart disease compared to those who rarely consume them.
Many years ago there was a lot of talk on how beneficial antioxidants were for heart health. But more recent studies have shown there isn’t a significant link between antioxidants and improved heart health. That doesn’t mean there isn’t a heart benefit to including a variety of berries in your diet.
Berries such as blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries typically have excellent nutritional profiles. They are filled with fiber, vitamins, and antioxidant polyphenols. And while the evidence doesn’t link these directly to heart health, they can help prevent and reduce the symptoms of various chronic diseases.
For example, studies on blueberries show us that they may help lower cholesterol and lower the risk of heart disease and diabetes. So, don’t write off berries as part of a heart-healthy diet.
Vegetables are packed with nutrients that promote overall health. But leafy greens like collard greens, spinach, and kale are some of the most beneficial vegetables you can consume for a focus on heart health. The AHA reports that an increased intake of these leafy greens is associated with a lower risk of heart disease and improved cardiovascular health when compared to other vegetables.
Some care should be taken when choosing grains, because refined carbohydrates can actually increase a person’s risk of heart disease, but whole grains can provide cardiovascular protection. The AHA suggests that whole grains can offer a range of heart-specific benefits, including a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, stroke, and coronary heart disease.
Foods to Avoid or Minimize
We are all unique in our individual dietary needs, and what works well for one person may not work for another. And while it may be beneficial to avoid or minimize the things discussed below, older adults should ultimately follow their healthcare providers’ recommendations on eating a balanced diet.
Processed Food & Snacks
Snacks like chips, cookies, and candy are often high in sugar, salt, and unhealthy fats. These foods, along with other processed and refined grains and carbohydrates, can cause rapid spikes in blood sugar levels, leading to weight gain and other health complications. Instead, seniors can opt for healthier snacks like fresh fruits, veggies, or nuts rich in protein.
Seniors should also watch out for sugary drinks like soda, energy drinks, and sweetened teas. These drinks can quickly add up in calories, leading to weight gain and greater health risks. Instead, older adults should drink plenty of water, which is essential for proper hydration and digestion. Herbal teas or fruit-infused water can also be great alternatives full of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals.
Another food to avoid or minimize is food high in artificial trans fats. Studies show those who consume a lot of artificial trans fats have higher levels of bad cholesterol, which can lead to heart trouble. It’s important to note that dietary sources of trans fat still raise cholesterol levels, but this form of trans fat isn’t associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease.
See How We Can Support Your Health
A balanced diet and physical activity are 2 key things that can benefit a senior throughout their golden years. A senior living community, whether assisted living or independent living, can make a huge difference when it comes to maintaining these aspects of life.Contact us at Kettle Park Senior Living to book a community tour if you’re considering communities in Stoughton. Our team is happy to answer all your questions and show you the difference a Lifespark Community can make.