There are plenty of visual reminders this time of the year that prompt us to think about that exceedingly vital organ that works 24/7 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 an ideal time to take steps to help the older adults we love to strengthen and protect the heart.
What Are the Very Best Foods for the Heart?
Be sure the pantry and fridge are stocked with plenty of these top foods for the heart:
Fruits and Vegetables
Variety is key, in both bright and deep colors: melons, berries, broccoli, peppers, kale, carrots, etc. Look for individual packages of prepared fruits and vegetables for an older adult who lives alone, or use larger quantities to cook batches of soup, stew, or chili to freeze in smaller portions.
Including fish in the diet a few times per week helps increase 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.
Legumes, Nuts, and Seeds
These foods have been shown to decrease bad cholesterol, and are an excellent 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, such as nut butters and hummus.
Replace the refined white flour and bread with whole wheat, rye, oats, or other whole grains. Not only are they an excellent source of fiber along with other nutrients, but they also assist with regulating blood pressure and heart health.
Even though eggs do contain cholesterol, they are chock full of vitamins and protein, and actually have a very small influence on blood cholesterol. Speak with the physician if the older adult is at risk for heart disease, but in most cases, consuming up to six eggs per week is a good rule of thumb.
It is also important to know what to avoid to safeguard the heart, most notably:
- Excessive alcohol consumption
- Too much salt
- Saturated and trans fats
- A sedentary lifestyle
- An unhealthy weight or BMI
Be mindful 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 watch for heart-healthy choices.
At Home With You Senior Care, a provider of senior care in Howard County, MD and nearby areas, our experienced and trained caregivers can help an older adult safeguard heart health in lots of ways, including:
- Picking up prescriptions
- Grocery shopping and preparing nutritious meals, according to any prescribed dietary plan
- Engaging in doctor-approved exercise programs and taking walks together
- Providing transportation to medical appointments, tests, and procedures
- Reminding seniors to take medications at the prescribed time
- And more