FOR YOUR HEALTH: Six Heart-Healthy Foods for Seniors

The National Institute on Aging reports that individuals who are 65 or older are more likely than younger people to have cardiovascular-related issues like heart disease, high blood pressure, strokes, heart attacks, or heart failure.

The American Heart Association states that eating a heart-healthy diet is one of the best ways (along with exercise) to help reduce the risk of heart disease and promote heart health. However, although you may know the right foods to eat, it’s often hard to change long term eating habits.

Fortunately, there are many healthy and tasty foods that can be easily worked into your diet. We’ve singled out six healthy foods for older adults that can help reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease, as well as highlighted a few ways you can easily incorporate them into your daily diet for a healthier heart.


Eat More of These

1. Leafy green vegetables

Leafy green vegetables like chard, kale, spinach, romaine lettuce, and bok choy are packed with vitamins and minerals and are low in calories. Get more high-fiber greens in your diet by tossing a handful into your morning smoothie, adding a side salad to a sandwich at lunch, sautéeing for a side dish, or adding into homemade soups.

Recipe to try: Garden-Fresh Rainbow Chard

2. Fat-free or low-fat dairy products

The vitamin D and calcium found in dairy products help improve mood, strengthen bones, and preserve muscle strength. An easy way to add more dairy is to use Greek yogurt in place of mayonnaise or cream in dishes.

Recipe to try: Chicken Broccoli Rice Casserole

3. Fresh fruits (especially berries)

Many fresh fruits are filled with vitamins and fiber. Berries, in particular, are chock-full of heart-healthy antioxidants, calcium, potassium, magnesium and fiber. Blueberries, raspberries, strawberries and blackberries are all little bursts of superfood that are low in sugar and calories. Add a handful to salads, throw them in smoothies, or use them to create a heart-healthy dessert.

Recipe to try: Warm Berry Crisp

4. Whole grains

Three daily servings of whole grains like oats, brown rice, wild rice, quinoa, and popcorn can keep your heart healthy and your cholesterol managed. It’s easy to replace refined grain options (like bread) with whole grain options without sacrificing taste. Whole grain side dishes are a great way to jazz up your mealtime routine.

Recipe to try: Cherry-Quinoa Salad

5. Healthy fats

Omega-3s are a type of good fat that can help keep arteries from hardening, lower triglycerides, and help regulate heartbeat. They’re also really good for your skin. Fish like salmon, tuna, and sardines are full of omega-3s, making them an excellent protein option. Healthy fats can also be found in nuts like almonds and walnuts and fruits like avocados. Swapping canola oil for olive oil whenever possible is a great way to get more healthy fat in your diet.

Recipe to try: Green Bean Salad With Roasted Almonds and Feta

6. Nuts and seeds

We already mentioned that almonds and walnuts have value for their healthy fats. They’re also loaded with protein and fiber, making them the perfect snack, salad topping, or ingredient for just about anything. They’ll help keep you fuller longer, which means you’ll eat less while remaining satisfied. Branch out and choose options like cashews, Macadamia nuts, Brazil nuts, pistachios, hazelnuts, and even coconuts to tantalize your palate while getting a healthy-heart boost.

Recipe to try: Sweet and Spicy Heart-Healthy Walnuts


Other Heart-Healthy Tips

While eating the right types of food will help you age well, feel good and stay healthy, there are other easy ways to keep your heart in tip-top shape, including:

  • Stay physically active – shoot for approximately 150 minutes of moderate physical activity per week. Even a brisk walk around the neighborhood after dinner will improve cardiovascular health, reduce stress, and boost mood. Talk to your doctor before starting any new exercise routine.
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Limit foods such as saturated fats, high-fat foods, fried foods, refined sugars, and alcohol
  • If you smoke, quit smoking
  • Manage any medical conditions by regularly visiting your doctor and staying on top of prescribed medication

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