There are plenty of visual reminders around this time of year to bring to mind that vital organ that works around the clock to keep us healthy! Store shelves are full of heart-shaped balloons, boxes of candy, and cards. Since it’s also American Heart Month, it is the perfect time to take steps to help the older adults we love to protect and strengthen the heart.
What Are the Very Best Foods to Improve Heart Health?
Be sure the fridge and pantry are stocked with lots of these heart-healthy options:
Even though they do contain cholesterol, they are chock full of vitamins and protein, and actually have a minimal effect on blood cholesterol. Speak with the physician if the senior is at risk for cardiovascular disease, but in most cases, eating up to six eggs each week is a good rule of thumb.
Replace the refined white flour and bread with whole wheat, rye, oats, or other whole grains. Not only are they a good source of fiber and other nutrients, but they also assist with regulating blood pressure and heart health.
Seeds, Legumes, and Nuts
These foods are known to lower bad cholesterol, and are a great way to add protein to the diet as well. Chickpeas, kidney beans, and nuts are great as they are, however, consider alternative ways to serve them, like nut butters and hummus.
Fruits and Vegetables
Variety is key, in both deep and bright colors: melons, berries, peppers, kale, broccoli, carrots, etc. Look for individual packages of prepared vegetables and fruits for a senior who lives alone, or use larger quantities to prepare batches of soup, stew, or chili to freeze in smaller portions.
Including fish in the diet a couple of times per week helps boost levels of good cholesterol. Salmon and mackerel specifically are rich in omega-3 fats. Although fresh fish is delicious, canned and frozen varieties provide the same nutrients.
It’s also important to be aware of what to avoid to protect the heart, such as:
- Too much salt
- Excessive alcohol consumption
- 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 not unusual, so look for heart-healthy choices.
At Absolute Companion Care, an award-winning provider of non-medical home care in Towson, MD and the surrounding areas, our experienced and trained caregivers can help an older adult improve heart health in many ways, including:
- Engaging in doctor-approved exercise programs and taking walks together
- Picking up prescriptions
- Reminding seniors to take medications at the prescribed time
- Providing transportation to medical tests, procedures, and appointments
- Grocery shopping and planning and preparing healthy meals, in accordance with any prescribed dietary plan
- And much more