Heart Healthy Foods For Seniors
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, heart disease kills more people than all forms of cancer combined, and is the leading cause of death in the United States.
The American Heart Association developed a prescription for health called Life’s Simple 7 – the seven most important predictors of heart health and also a pathway for achieving ideal cardiovascular health. In summary, the 7 cardiovascular health factors include smoking status, body weight, total cholesterol, blood pressure, blood glucose, physical activity, and diet.
It’s never too late to adopt healthier eating habits. Here at Jewish Senior Life, our dining menus are carefully created by each kitchen’s head chef, with nutritional adequacy in mind. They are especially equipped for this task, as they recognize the needs of each building and understand what the residents enjoy.
Certain residences also offer kitchenettes in their apartments, allowing our residents to keep select foods of their desire in their room for guests or visitors. If you’re looking to live a healthier lifestyle, check out this list of heart healthy foods and snacks.
Heart Healthy Meats
- Skinless chicken
- Skinless turkey
- Lean ground beef (at least 93% lean)
- Lean cuts of red meat
- Fatty fish (like Salmon)
Known as lean meats, skinless chicken and turkey with fresh herbs and spices are staples of low-sodium meals for seniors. With the skin removed, and without added salt, older adults consume meals that are healthy, especially if high blood pressure is a concern. Be sure to cut back on fatty meats to decrease your saturated fat intake!
Heart Healthy Vegetables
- Brussel sprouts
- Romaine lettuce
- Red bell peppers
- Canned vegetables that are low in sodium and not artificially sweetened
While not a very popular vegetable, brussels sprouts are a healthy one. A single cup contains four grams of heart-smart soluble fiber. Spinach is a great food choice for many reasons ranging from eye health to heart health. Spinach, salad greens, fresh lettuce, kale, and many other types of leafy greens boost vitamins and vital nutrients to promote heart health. The best types of leafy green vegetables are usually dark greens. Leafy greens are a great foundation for senior cuisine, especially when preparing meals for those with high blood pressure or a high risk of cardiovascular disease.
Fruits Good For The Heart
- Blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, strawberries
It’s important to be aware that frozen, canned, and dried fruits are excellent sources of nutrients for everybody. Try to limit added sugar and added salt. Dried fruits are also an option, but look to limit added sugar or salt in those as well!
Berries are loaded with fiber and antioxidants, and make for another heart-smart food choice. Avocado (yes, it is a fruit) is high in healthy monounsaturated fat. It helps reduce LDL, the “bad” type of cholesterol. Pears and peaches are both highly nutritious and can promote heart health, as well as good digestion and anti-inflammation. Apples and oranges are healthy foods for older adults, from the high fiber and potassium in oranges to polyphenols in apples.
What Should Seniors Eat For Breakfast?
Oats are a great breakfast food option, as they’re loaded with protein and fiber. That combination keeps you full longer so you avoid overeating. The soluble fiber found in oatmeal can also help you manage your cholesterol, further lowering your risk for heart disease. Mix in some berries and walnuts and you’ve got a delicious and nutritious heart-healthy breakfast.
Whole-grain bread, bagels, and English muffins are also good breakfast options, but for products with more than 1 ingredient make sure that ‘whole wheat’ or another whole grain is listed first in the ingredient list. Look for products that say 100% whole grain. Toast whole-grain bread and top it with a mashed up avocado for a yummy and healthy breakfast.
Heart Healthy Snacks To Buy
Whether for you, a loved one, or to keep stocked up for visitors and guests, we’ve compiled a list of heart healthy snacks to keep on hand.
- Green tea: Tea is a popular item to offer to guests. Research increasingly shows that the antioxidants in green tea help your arteries stay flexible longer. That keeps plaque from building up. Some studies show that blood vessel function can improve very quickly, in as little as 30 minutes, after consuming a cup of green tea.
- Walnuts: Walnuts are full of omega-3s. A handful of these healthy nuts can also help boost protein and lower cholesterol.
- Dark chocolate: Look for at least 70% cocoa. Dark chocolate contains healthy amounts of resveratrol and cocoa phenols, which can lower blood pressure. Dark chocolates are healthier for you, with higher cocoa content and lower fat than milk chocolate.
Other Healthy Heart Tips for Seniors
We’ve covered what foods you should eat, but what about foods to limit?
- Eat less saturated fat. Cut back on fast food, fatty meats, and high-fat dairy products. Limit foods like burgers, pizza, processed cheeses, and creamy sauces or gravy.
- Cut down on sodium (salt). Check the nutrition facts label and choose foods that are lower in sodium. Look for foods labeled “low sodium” or “no salt added”, like some canned soups, canned vegetables, packaged meals, and snack foods.
- Limit white breads, refined pastas, white rice, and sugary cereals.
In addition to a heart-healthy diet, regular exercise, maintaining a healthy weight, lowering blood pressure and cholesterol levels, reducing stress, and stopping smoking can all help improve heart health and lower the risk of heart disease.
Stay Healthy At A Senior Living Facility
Here at JSL, we assist our residents in living their best lives which includes maintaining a healthy and nutritious diet. We work diligently to provide heart healthy meals for seniors. If you or a loved one are interested in learning more about the heart-healthy dining options available in our residential facilities that serve the needs of older adults, schedule a tour today.