Our diets are an important aspect of taking care of our health, whether that’s specific types of foods like in a keto diet or simply a pattern of healthy eating. Some of the best heart-healthy foods for seniors include salmon, whole grains, berries, leafy greens, and nuts. It’s typically easy to incorporate some or all of these foods into a balanced diet.
One significant benefit a senior can get out of living in a senior community is that they often provide healthy food choices as part of their services and amenities. Some may even offer customized meals to meet resident’s individual needs.
What Are the Best Heart-Healthy Foods for Seniors?
There isn’t a single “best” food for our heart or any other part of our body. But there is certainly research that suggests certain foods may possess extra benefits when it comes to maintaining good health throughout our lives.
Salmon is a fatty fish that is high in omega-3 fatty acids, a crucial nutrient proven to reduce inflammation and decrease the risk of heart disease. Omega-3s can also help regulate blood pressure, improve cholesterol levels, and decrease the likelihood of blood clots. As seniors are more susceptible to cardiovascular problems, incorporating salmon into their diet a few times a week can be beneficial.
Whole grains like brown rice, quinoa, whole-grain bread, and oats are excellent sources of fiber, vitamins, minerals, and other essential nutrients that support heart health. Fiber-containing whole grains can lower total and LDL cholesterol levels, reduce inflammation, and contribute to healthy gut microbes. A healthy gut supports overall health and ensures optimal digestion, absorption, and elimination of food.
Berries are packed with antioxidants that can help protect the heart by reducing inflammation and damage caused by free radicals. Additionally, berries are rich in polyphenols, which can help lower blood pressure, improve cholesterol levels, and improve blood vessel function in seniors. You can add berries to smoothies, salads, and yogurt, or enjoy a bowl of berries as a snack.
Leafy greens like spinach, kale, collards, and chard are rich in vitamins, minerals, fiber, and phytonutrients. All of these nutrients can help protect the heart by lowering inflammation, regulating blood pressure, and minimizing the risk of atrial fibrillation or heart attacks. Include a variety of leafy greens in your diet by adding them to salads, soups, smoothies, and stir-fries.
Nuts & Seeds
Nuts and seeds like almonds, flaxseeds, chia seeds, and walnuts are rich in healthy fats, fiber, vitamins, minerals, and protein. The nutrients that many nuts and seeds contain can help lower cholesterol levels, decrease blood pressure, and regulate blood sugar levels in seniors. You can add nuts and seeds to smoothies, salads, and oatmeal, or enjoy them as a snack.
A Balanced Diet for Seniors
Rather than focusing on a particular food, the focus should be on eating a balanced diet. If a senior has any particular dietary concerns, they should seek the advice of a registered dietician or other qualified healthcare provider.
Focus on Nutrient-Dense Foods
Nutrient-dense foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats are essential for a senior’s health. These foods are packed with vitamins, minerals, and other essential nutrients that our bodies need to function correctly.
Dehydration is a common problem in seniors and can lead to several health issues, including confusion, constipation, and urinary tract infections. It is essential to drink plenty of fluids, including water, herbal teas, and soups, to help maintain proper hydration levels.
Watch Portion Size
Our activity levels often decrease as we age, and with that, our calorie needs decrease too. Eating larger portions than what our bodies require can lead to weight gain and other health problems. It’s essential to watch your portion sizes and avoid overeating to maintain a healthy weight. Seniors don’t necessarily need to “count calories,” but they should consider the amount they are consuming in a day.
Limit Processed & Sugary Foods
Processed and sugary foods, such as candy, cookies, sodas, and fast food, provide little to no nutritional value and can lead to chronic illnesses such as diabetes, heart disease, and obesity. Limiting these foods and replacing them with healthy, nutrient-dense alternatives can improve overall health and reduce the risk of chronic diseases.
Nothing says these things must be completely restricted from the diet, but it’s worth considering their effect on overall health and being mindful of how much processed foods and treats your loved one consumes.
Even with a well-balanced diet, seniors may require additional vitamins and minerals. It’s essential to discuss nutritional supplements with your doctor. While our bodies need a certain amount of various vitamins and minerals, problems can develop with the overconsumption of some of them.
Nutrition Support for Your Loved One
Getting adequate nutritional support in a senior living community can be a huge benefit to most seniors. Give us a call at Yorkshire of Edina to book a community tour, so you can see how our community and team can help your loved one live a happy and healthy life.