One of the number one resolutions that people of any age make for the New Year is to eat better. Seniors are no exception, and you might already have plans to try and improve your eating habits. New Year’s resolutions can be hard to keep up, but maintaining heart health is an important lifestyle change that can affect you year-round. Here are some heart-healthy foods that you can work into your everyday diet to keep going strong all year.
Berries are a great healthy snack to add into your daily diet. Berries like blueberries and strawberries have been shown to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disorders, and are an easy way to make sure that even while snacking, you're working towards promoting a healthy lifestyle. Pick up a basket of blueberries the next time you're at the store, and add them to yogurt and cereal for a natural sweetener.
2. Whole Grains
Another great food for the heart healthy senior is whole grains. Whole grains are easy to add into your diet, simply by making different choices at the grocery store. Choose breads and pastas that are made with whole grains for an easy health fix, and switch your bread loaf to 100% whole wheat. Oats and oatmeal for breakfast are another easy way to improve heart health, though you should choose rolled oats or the chewier steel-cut oats over quick or instant oatmeal for better nutritional payoff when possible. Whole grains also a great energy boosting food.
3. Nuts and Seeds
Nuts and seeds are another example of a food that can easily become an everyday snack. Nuts such as walnuts and almonds, and seeds like sunflower or pumpkin can reduce your risk for cardiovascular disease and bad cholesterol. If you like walnuts, they also provide energy for seniors and can be added into a number of savory and sweet dishes. Add nuts and seeds to your salads and baked goods, or reach for something roasted when cravings strike!
One of the best foods for heart health is fish. Fatty, cold water fishes, such as salmon or sardines, give your body the necessary healthy fats that it needs to function without the negative effects that other proteins can sometimes give seniors. Studies have shown that seniors who make fish part of their regular diet have better lipids, blood pressure, and blood glucose levels.
5. Spinach and Kale
Spinach and other leafy green vegetables give you not only energy and provide an immune boost, but studies show how eating plenty of them can reduce blood pressure and help your red blood cells work better. Kale, another great example of a leafy green, can also provide important nutritional benefits for your everyday health.
Like fish, avocados can give your system the healthy fats that it needs without damaging your cholesterol by adding bad fats to your system. Lowered cholesterol through healthy eating has been proven to improve overall heart health. Avocados are easy to find at the store, and are great to add to salads, omelets, and sandwiches for an everyday boost to heart health.
Tomatoes have a lot of different nutritional benefits. They are full of different vitamins and antioxidants which can prevent the inflammation that contributes to heart disease. Tomatoes also increases the levels of lycopene, which can lower the risk of heart attack and stroke in seniors. Fresh tomatoes are sweet in their flavor profile, and can be a welcome addition to salads and snacks.
Broccoli is another example of a food with multiple health benefits beyond heart health. If you're looking to improve your immune health and your heart health, broccoli is a great choice of vegetable. While it's not everyone’s favorite food, broccoli is full of vitamins that support a healthy heart and can be eaten both raw and cooked.
9. Dark Chocolate
Not all healthy food is just vegetables! Dark chocolate is a sweeter food that has a ton of antioxidants that can help improve heart health, and studies have shown that eating dark chocolate regularly is associated with a lower risk for heart disease. Dark chocolate can be eaten plain as a sweet snack, or can be used as a substitution for milk chocolate in any desert. Being heart healthy doesn’t have to be a chore, and using dark chocolate as an incentive can help encourage you to keep up your health goals.
While you might not snack on a bulb of garlic the way you would chocolate or nuts, it is still a good way to help improve your heart health. Adding crushed garlic or garlic extract to the meals you make at home does more than make your food delicious. Garlic can also inhibit platelet buildup, which in turn can help limit the risk of stroke or blood clots.
11. Olive Oil
Olive oil is a great heart-healthy choice that is easy to add into your daily diet. Olive oil can be used to improve your meals and is a great option to use in place of butter when cooking on the stove at home. Olive oil can also be used in homemade dressings and marinades. Not only does olive oil have the antioxidants that have been proven to help heart health, but it also has been linked to lower blood pressure in people who eat it regularly.
It can be tricky to stick to a health plan, and many New Year’s diet and health resolutions quickly die off. But boosting your heart health is important, especially as you age. Diet is only a part of a healthy lifestyle, but it is a big component. These foods are easy to make into daily eating habits so you can remain as healthy as you can possibly be.