The heart is the center of the cardiovascular system. And it is involved in many of the daily functions which bring your body to life! Therefore, having a healthy heart is crucial to our overall health— and this is more important to maintain as we grow older.

“Just like the mind loses its focus, the body loses its strength, the heart also weakens as we grow older”, says a senior heart specialist Dr. Irene Tillo-Escanlar.

Another specialist Dr. Josefa T. Monserate said that, “Even though heart problems can affect anyone, say those people who are obese or with a family history of chronic heart disease, older people are more at risk due to their inactive lifestyle and maybe, poor diet choices.”

And although heart issues can affect anyone, the risk of heart disease goes up as we get older. As a matter of fact, there is over 67 percent of people between the ages of 60 and 79 who suffer from some type of heart disease. And after 8- years of age, that number can jump to greater than 84 percent of people. [1]

Therefore, leading a healthy lifestyle, like following a nutritious, heart-healthy diet, can help manage or bring down cholesterol and blood pressure levels in seniors as well as helping them reach or keep a healthy weight even at old age. Such effects can help reduce the risk of heart diseases and lower the chances of heart issues such as stroke, attacks,and cardiovascular-disease related deaths.

Even the healthiest seniors can benefit from heart-healthy eating patterns and adapting to a healthy eating plan can be especially helpful for seniors at risk for, or who may already have heart disease. Such patterns of eating can help manage not only to heart disease risks but have also been shown to lower the risk of many other senior chronic diseases such as cancer, diabetes,and dementia. [2]

Follow these diet tips to improve heart health in seniors:

1. Fill Up On Plants

Plant-based foods such as legumes, beans, whole grains, fruits,and vegetables are extremely high in nutrients, particularly fiber which helps lower the risk of heart disease and prevent weight gain by keeping you feel fuller for longer periods of time.

Select grains that are whole such as brown rice, oatmeal,and wheat bread. Also, eat a colorful variety of veggies and fruits. However, since seniors can’t bite and munch on numerous veggies and fruits at once, using a soup making appliance can solve the problem by creating warm, heart-healthy vegetable soups.

2. Choose Healthy Fats

Saturated fats are usually found in animal sources such as whole-milk dairy products and fatty cuts of meats. They can also be found in some tropical oils such as coconut oil. Whereas trans fatis found in packaged and processed foods which contain some hydrogenated oils like fried foods and baked goods.

Consider replacing such unhealthy fats with healthy fats such as polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats which are found in most seeds and nuts, olive and canola oils, avocado and fatty fish. Choosing healthier fats can help in lowering bad cholesterol levels, decreasing the risk of heart diseases.

3. Go For Lean Protein

Seafood, beans, eggs and skinless cuts of poultry are the best sources of lean protein. Eat fishes that are rich in heart-healthyomega-3 fatty acids such as trout, tuna, herring, and salmon in order to promote heart health. [3]

4. Steer Clear From Processed Foods

Seniors do not have the time and energy to prepare their own meals. And if they do not have a family to take care of their meals, chances are they are more prone to shopping with packaged and easy to cook foods.

However, processed foods tend to be high in added sugars, sodium, Trans and saturated fats and calories and extremely low in nutrients. Sodium can boost blood pressure, unhealthy fats can increase bad cholesterol, and extra calories can lead to weight gain. [4]

5. Drink Plenty Of Water

Seniors can be at risk for dehydration. This is because of their inactive lifestyle and a reduced sense of thirst. Thus, make sure to have plenty of water. Being hydrated can help keep the heart from pumping and working too hard. [5]

6. Consider Supplements

Seniors may find it hard to get some nutrients in their diet, particularly if they are advised to avoid some foods. So, ask your doctor if you can take mineral or vitamin supplements such as vitamin D, calcium, vitamin B12, or magnesium since these particular vitamins are usually not consumed enough or poorly absorbed by seniors.

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