As we age, our dietary needs change, and it can be difficult to know what foods are and aren’t good choices. And with your heart being as important as it is for your day-to-day life, it’s important to make sure you’re eating heart-healthy foods. Since heart disease is one of the leading causes of death in the United States, it’s becoming more important than ever to consciously make sure your heart is as healthy as it can be.
A healthy, well-balanced diet is an excellent way to prioritize heart health. Fruits, vegetables, protein, healthy fats, and low-sodium options are all great choices to incorporate heart-healthy foods for seniors.
What Are the Best Food Choices for a Healthy Heart?
When it comes to your heart’s health, you want to make sure you’re eating beneficial foods. A healthy mix of fruits and vegetables for breakfast, along with whole grains, fish, beans, and dairy are all heart-healthy choices. Making these things a staple of your day can be a great way to improve how healthy your heart is, and the best part? They’re delicious!
Protein Choices for Heart Health
When eating protein, research suggests it’s best to avoid protein from meats high in saturated fats. Try incorporating the following types of protein into your diet:
- Skinless chicken (avoid frying it) or turkey
- Fish and other seafood (tuna and salmon are two of the best choices for heart health)
- Legumes and lentils
- Soy products
Best Vegetables for Heart Health
We’ve all heard it throughout our lives: we have to eat more vegetables. We could all benefit from a little more green in our diet!
When it comes to your heart, though, there are some veggies that stand out above the rest.
- Broccoli (low in cholesterol, high in fiber—a slam dunk for helping your heart)
- Brussels sprouts
These aren’t the only options, but they’re definitely some of the best. And they can be worked into all sorts of recipes or made into snacks, so it’s not a bad idea to stock up!
Best Fruits for a Healthy Heart
Most fruits are low in cholesterol, high in fiber, high in potassium, and filled with antioxidants. Some of the best heart-healthy choices include:
- Most berries, like strawberries, blackberries, and blueberries
- Most citrus fruits, like oranges, lemons, and grapefruits
When it comes to fruit, you pretty much can’t go wrong. It’s important to note, though—avoid fruits that come in a ton of syrup or coated in sugar.
Best Grain Choices for Heart Health
There are 2 primary types of grain-based food: whole grain and refined grain. Whole grain foods contain all their nutrients, while refined grains have been ground into flour or powder. Once ground, they’re stripped of their bran and germ, which means they have a longer shelf life but no longer have all the nutrients that make them such a healthy choice, especially for your heart.
By sticking to whole-grain food choices, you’re making the right choice for your heart. They’re higher in fiber and are full of nutrients that are great for your heart. Some common sources of whole grains include:
- Whole grain pasta (read the ingredient list to tell if the pasta is whole grain or not)
- Whole grain or whole wheat bread
- Brown rice
- Rice cakes
By reading the nutrition label or ingredient list, you can tell if a product has whole grains in it.
Best Drink Choices for a Healthy Heart
While beverages like soda or cocktails may be yummy, they’re not all that great for your heart. Anything high-sugar puts more strain on your heart than necessary, and with the amount of options today for heart-conscious healthy drinks, you can always change it up! Try:
- Sparkling water with fruit added
- Fruit juices (though a whole fruit is better for you, the juice is still good!)
- Vegetable cocktails
- Green tea
- Unflavoured or plant-based milk
Soy replacements exist for most dairy products, and soy is excellent for the heart.
Avoiding drinks with added syrup or sugars can be difficult at first, but it can make a difference in heart health. Drinks like coffee and tea are fine in moderation, but try to avoid adding a ton of sugar and cream if you can!
Best Ways to Stay Healthy for Seniors
At the end of the day, diet is only one part of keeping your heart healthy. It’s best to combine a good diet with regular exercise and try to avoid any unhealthy habits like smoking or excessive drinking. By making small changes here and there, you can prioritize your heart health.
A healthy heart goes a long way—many of the foods here also help boost your mental health. Whether you live on your own, with your family, or in some form of assisted or independent living, choosing heart-conscious foods can make a big difference in your overall health.
Here at The Villages of Farragut, we want each and every resident to have a high-quality life, and that all starts with making sure everybody has access to what they need for a healthy diet. Schedule a tour with us today to see for yourself, or download a brochure!