Many older adults can benefit from healthy living, an engaging community, and personalized support. Heart health is also important since our hearts can become more susceptible to various health issues as we age.
Fortunately, a heart-healthy diet with fruits, leafy greens and other vegetables, whole grains, proteins, and healthy fats can reduce your risk of heart disease.
Importance of Heart Health in Seniors
A healthy heart results in efficient circulation of blood and oxygen. Adults 65 and older are more likely to develop heart-related conditions than younger people due to changes in the heart and blood vessels from aging.
Older adults can take several steps to keep their health healthy, such as:
- Be more physically active
- Quit smoking
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Keep conditions like diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol under control
Heart Healthy Foods
Following a diet with the best heart-healthy foods and minimizing food that elevates your risk of heart disease is another way to promote heart health in older adults.
Healthy Fats & Oils
One of the cornerstones of a heart-healthy diet is incorporating omega-3 fatty acids, which are good for your heart. Fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, and sardines are rich sources of these essential fats. Omega-3s are known to help reduce the risk of heart disease and help ward off damaging inflammation. A recent study found that consuming 2–3 servings of fish per week can lower the incidence of heart disease. Speak to your healthcare provider about recommended dietary guidelines.
Another heart-healthy fat is avocados. Avocados are high in healthy fats, fiber, and several micronutrients essential for heart health. A heart-healthy oil is olive oil. Olive oil is a plant-based source of monounsaturated fatty acids and is rich in antioxidants, which can help prevent damage to your arteries.
Leafy greens like spinach, kale, and Swiss chard are rich in vitamins and minerals essential for heart health. They are also high in fiber, which can help lower cholesterol levels.
Vegetables in various colors and textures are also an important source of minerals, vitamins, carbohydrates, and fiber. Older adults can enjoy fresh, frozen, or canned (without added salt) vegetables. Examples of heart-healthy vegetables can include:
- Acorn squash
- Sweet and white potato
- Green peas
- Green beans
Fruits like apples, oranges, bananas, mangos, guava, and papaya can benefit overall health. However, berries like strawberries and blueberries are packed with antioxidants and can easily be incorporated into meals or eaten as a snack.
Berries protect the body against oxidative stress and inflammation, which can contribute to heart disease. Older adults can include frozen, canned, or dried fruits in their diet. But make sure there are no added sugars when purchasing these.
Grains provide carbohydrates for energy. Refined grains lack the fiber and nutrients the body needs. Examples of refined grain can include white flour, degermed cornmeal, white bread, and white rice.
Older adults can swap refined grains for their whole-grain counterparts containing fiber, iron, and many B vitamins for a healthy diet. Look for examples of 100% whole grains, including:
- Whole bulgur
- Whole-grain bread, bagels, muffins, and tortillas
- Whole-grain hot or cold breakfast cereals
- Whole grains like brown or wild rice, quinoa, or oats
- Whole-wheat or whole-grain pasta and couscous
As we age, preserving muscle mass becomes crucial for overall health, and lean proteins play a pivotal role. Older adults can opt for 95% lean meats, such as lean ground beef, pork tenderloin, skinless chicken, or turkey. Low-fat dairy is also a heart-healthy choice that can help increase unsaturated fat intake while lowering saturated fat intake.
Plant-based proteins such as legumes and nuts are heart-healthy choices rich in fiber, polyunsaturated fats, antioxidants, and protein. Legumes can reduce cholesterol, improve blood pressure, and lower your risk of heart disease, thus promoting heart health.
The following are examples of plant proteins and legumes:
- Split peas
Foods to Avoid for Heart Health
Together with a heart-healthy diet, the American Heart Association recommends that older adults avoid the following foods to lower their risk of heart disease and protect their hearts:
- High-fat dairy products
- Fatty meats
- Processed meats
- Tropical oils and partially hydrogenated fats
- Processed foods
- Foods with added sugars
- Food high in salt
Personalized Senior Living
As older adults navigate the changes accompanying aging, embracing a heart-healthy diet becomes even more vital. By making small changes in the diet, such as including more heart-healthy foods, older adults can reduce their risk of heart disease and boost their heart health.
At The Villages of Murfreesboro, we provide personalized services to meet the unique needs of residents, including chef-prepared meals and restaurant-style dining. No matter what level of care a loved one needs, you can rest assured that we can provide the services, amenities, and support they deserve.
Book a tour to learn more about our community in person.