7 Heart Healthy Diet Tips for Seniors
Heart disease is now the leading cause of death for both men and women in the U.S. It is important to make smart choices as you or your senior loved one gets older to keep heart healthy.
In honor of American Heart Health Month, here are a few ways to start adapting nutrition habits that help reduce the risk of heart disease:
- Maintain a healthy weight. As you age, you may notice body changes, less muscle mass and burning fewer calories. It is important to eat healthy and maintain a healthy weight. Extra weight may increase your risk for heart disease, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes and bone issues. What you eat is important, but how much you eat is, too. Despite thinking you are eating a healthy, balanced meal, you may be overloading your plate and consuming more calories than you need. Measure out servings beforehand or use a small plate to help control the portion size. Eat more of the low-calorie, nutrient-rich foods, like fruits and vegetables, and less of the high-calorie foods, such as processed foods.
- Rethink buying fatty meats. Try to find lean meat with the least amount of visible fats. But you don’t want to avoid fat all together. Fatty fish, such as salmon or trout, is something that you should try to incorporate into your meals with at least two servings each week. These types of fish can help lower the risk of heart disease and increase the amount of omega-3s. Eggs are also nutrient rich foods with healthy fats, high quality protein and many vitamins and minerals.
- Make your plate colorful. Seniors should get at least five servings each day of fruits and vegetables. They’re low in calories and high in vitamins, minerals and fiber. You want to color your plate with as many shades of the rainbow as you can, as each color indicates a concentration of a specific nutrient. Consider buying frozen or canned fruits or vegetables, which have the same vitamins and minerals in them, but are more cost-efficient.
- Eat dairy. Dairy or milk-like products provide essential Vitamin D necessary for heart health. Consume fat-free or low-fat milk and cheese, or soy, rice or almond milk that is fortified with Vitamin D and calcium.
- Fiber, fiber, fiber. Fiber will keep you full and help lower blood cholesterol levels. Fiber-rich foods include fruits, vegetables, beans, whole-grain breads and nuts.
- Read nutrition labels. Know what you’re eating. Read the nutrition labels to check for things like salt, which can easily be hidden in foods. Seniors usually need around 1500 mg of sodium per day, so read those nutrition labels to ensure that you’re getting the correct amount.
- Don’t rush into major lifestyle changes. It can be overwhelming trying to manage everything you need to eat, but don’t get discouraged. Try to stick to these dietary guidelines as best as you can and start improving your heart health today.