As we get older, it becomes increasingly important to prioritize our health, and one great way to do that is through the foods we eat. Heart-healthy foods for senior adults include vegetables, berries, whole grains, nuts, and dark chocolate.
Heart Health & Heart-Healthy Foods
Aging can cause changes to your heart and blood vessels, leading to an increased risk of heart disease. Consuming excessive foods rich in saturated fats or simple sugars can also contribute to heart disease.
However, you can take steps to prevent heart disease and keep your heart healthy. Embracing a heart-healthy diet involves minimizing foods that elevate your heart disease risk and eating foods that promote heart health.
Whole grains are a cornerstone of heart-healthy eating. Unlike refined grains with the bran and germ removed, whole grains contain germ, endosperm, and bran to retain their natural, nutrient-packed goodness.
Whole grains are rich in dietary fiber, which helps lower cholesterol levels and maintain healthy blood pressure, thus lowering your risk of heart disease. Examples of whole-grain foods can include:
- Whole wheat
- Brown rice
Fish like salmon, mackerel, and sardines are high in omega-3 fatty acids, which can reduce the risk of heart disease. Eating fish over the long term can also lower:
- Total cholesterol
- Blood triglycerides
- Fasting blood sugar
- Blood pressure
Berries like strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, and raspberries, are full of flavor and antioxidants, which can help protect your heart by reducing oxidative stress and inflammation that can contribute to heart disease.
Nuts & Seeds
Almonds, walnuts, flaxseeds, hemp, and chia seeds are great sources of fiber, heart-healthy nutrients, healthy fats, and antioxidants. They make for a great snack or addition to your meals.
Almonds are high in fiber and monounsaturated fats and can reduce cholesterol, a risk factor for heart disease. Consume nuts in moderation as they are high in calories. Walnuts can help reduce cholesterol levels and blood pressure. Adding chia, hemp, and flaxseeds to your diet can reduce inflammation, blood pressure, cholesterol, and triglycerides.
Leafy Green Vegetables
Leafy greens like spinach, kale, and collard green are rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. They are also a good source of vitamin K and nitrates, which reduce blood pressure and improve arterial function.
Garlic isn’t just a flavorful addition to your dishes—it’s also known for its heart-protective properties. Garlic can lower blood pressure and cholesterol and stop platelet buildup to reduce the risk of blood clots and stroke.
Avocados are an excellent source of monounsaturated fats, which reduce cholesterol and triglyceride levels and lower the risk of heart disease. Avocados also contain potassium, an essential nutrient in heart health, and can help reduce blood pressure.
Tomatoes contain lycopene, packed with antioxidant properties that can help reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke. Eating tomatoes can also help lower inflammation and improve overall heart health.
Beans can help lower cholesterol levels, improve glycemic control and blood pressure, and reduce the risk of heart disease, especially in people with diabetes.
Olive oil is high in monounsaturated fatty acids and antioxidants, which reduce inflammation and blood pressure and contribute to heart health.
Dark chocolate is a delicious way to indulge your sweet tooth while still benefiting your heart. Dark chocolate contains antioxidants called flavonoids that may help improve heart health.
Consuming chocolate in moderation may decrease your risk of coronary heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. When choosing dark chocolate, look for at least 70% cocoa content.
Edamame is a soybean rich in nutrients such as fiber and antioxidants, such as soy isoflavones, a type of flavonoid that may help lower cholesterol levels and improve heart health.
Other Tips for Heart Health
Now that you’re aware of what foods have a big impact on our heart health and how they can reduce your risk of heart disease, we explore the foods that you should avoid or limit, such as:
- Eat less saturated fat. Avoid or limit your consumption of fatty meats and high-fat dairy products. These can include pizza, burgers, and creamy sauces or gravy.
- Cut back on salt (sodium). Too much salt can increase your blood pressure, a risk factor for heart disease. Look for labels with ‘no salt added’ or ‘low sodium’ on prepared meals and canned soups.
Foods for a Happier, Healthier Life
As older adults, maintaining heart health is important, but it doesn’t have to be a solitary journey. You can enjoy heart-healthy meals with friends and loved ones in senior living communities.
At The Legacy at Cimarron, we offer personalized meals with our residents’ specific dietary and healthcare needs in mind. Contact us to learn more about our chef-prepared meals or book a tour to explore our community further.