According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC), coronary heart disease affects almost 5 percent of the population. Heart attacks occur in over 3 percent of the population, while heart failure affects approximately 2 percent of the population. Obviously, heart health is something that no sector of the adult population can ignore.
Some of the factors that may increase the risk of heart disease or heart attack include high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, and obesity, smoking and/or physical inactivity.
However, reducing the risk of heart problems is possible through simple lifestyle changes such as increasing exercise and choosing a healthy diet. The same is true for young adults and seniors alike. Here are some great heart-healthy foods to incorporate into senior care:
– Fresh fruit and vegetables
According to WebMD, fresh vegetables and fruits help remove free radicals from the bloodstream, which helps maintain the health of blood vessels.
Some of the best heart-healthy produce includes blueberries, which are high in vitamin C, antioxidants, beta-carotene and potassium, as well as carrots, which are high in alpha-carotene and fiber. Try adding shredded carrots to pasta sauce or zucchini bread batter for an added heart healthy boost. Put blueberries on oatmeal or eat some for a quick snack.
Other heart-healthy fruits and vegetables include broccoli, spinach, red bell peppers, sweet potato, oranges, asparagus, cantaloupe, squash, tomatoes, papaya and other berries. All are high in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants and easy to incorporate as a side dish or snack for seniors.
– Whole Grains
Look for bread products that are labeled “100 percent whole grain” and list “whole wheat flour” as the first on the ingredient list for the most heart-healthy benefits. One whole grain that appeals to many seniors is a bowl of oatmeal, which provides omega-3 fatty acids, as well as calcium, soluble fiber, potassium and magnesium. Add a little milk and some fresh fruit to make this a healthy and delicious breakfast.
– Beans and Legumes
High in fiber and protein, beans and legumes offer a low fat, satisfying way to feel full. Add some kidney beans or black beans to a broth-based soup with vegetables and whole grain pasta to add soluble fiber, B-complex vitamins, magnesium and niacin in a satisfying and nurturing meal. Soup is also easy to freeze and defrost for senior care providers.
The omega-3 fats in fish help increase heart health and may even reduce inflammation. Buy some grilled salmon and add it to a salad for an easy way to add omega-3 fatty acids and protein.
Tuna is another fish that is easy to incorporate into a senior’s diet. Buy canned “light” tuna, mix some with some low-fat mayonnaise and mustard, add to whole wheat bread for niacin, omega-3 fatty acids, and foliate for a quick and easy lunch or dinner.
– Brown Rice
Like whole wheat bread, brown rice adds fiber, vitamins and minerals where white, processed pasta and bread items do not. Brown rice has B-complex vitamins, niacin and magnesium. Pick up some steamed vegetables and brown rice from a local Chinese or Thai restaurant for an easy meal for an at-home senior.
Tea is high in flavonols and catechins, which are good for the heart. Brew up a nice afternoon cup of tea or brew some sun tea and pour it over ice for a delicious, healthy beverage.
While many of these foods are easy enough for many seniors to eat and prepare on their own, home care services can also help grocery shop, prepare meals and snacks. This will help ensure that a healthy variety of heart-smart foods is provided on a daily basis.
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