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Best Heart-Healthy Foods for Seniors

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Close-up of an older adult’s hands showing off a handful of raspberries

Our heart’s health becomes an increasingly precious commodity as we age. Older adults should pay close attention to what fuels their bodies, as a healthy heart paves the way to a vibrant, active lifestyle well into the golden years. 

Some of the best heart-healthy foods for seniors include:

  • Berries and fruits
  • Leafy greens and other vegetables
  • Whole grains
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Legumes

Understanding the role of nutrition in heart health is the cornerstone of an older adult’s health journey. So, along with these specific foods, we’ll also review some of the crucial nutrients they contain that make them so valuable for heart health. It’s also important to note that a healthy, balanced diet is good for more than our hearts. Healthy eating is also linked to helping improve memory loss in seniors.

Importance of Caring for the Heart

Given the natural wear and tear on the body’s systems throughout life, Older adults often face an increased risk of heart conditions. This includes the development of hypertension, heart disease, and the aftermath of heart attacks, all of which can profoundly impact the quality of life.

Heart Health Risk Factors

Knowing what older adults are against is the first step in the battle for heart health. Risk factors such as high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and obesity are significant red flags. However, proactive measures, such as a thoughtfully abundant diet, can undermine these risks and offer protections that pill bottles cannot.

However, it’s important to note that a healthy diet should never replace your doctor’s recommendations and prescriptions for medication or other interventions.

Heart-Healthy Nutrients for Seniors

A healthy diet can benefit an older adult’s heart health, along with other health benefits. But a few specific nutrients are linked to improved cardiovascular function:

Fiber

Fiber is the unsung hero for its heart health benefits. Its formidable reputation stems from its ability to decrease cholesterol, lower blood pressure, and maintain a healthy weight—each linked to cardiovascular health.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Omega-3 fatty acids have long been recommended by the American Heart Association (AHA) as a significant factor in preventing and minimizing the risk of cardiovascular events. And they even lower the risk of heart attack and stroke in those who already have heart disease.

It’s important to note that some recent studies show that certain supplements may not always be as beneficial. So, it’s often best to get these fatty acids from whole food sources, such as fatty fish, which we’ll discuss below.

Antioxidants

Doctors have recommended antioxidants for heart disease prevention for many years. Current research is on the fence now about their true efficacy in reducing an individual’s risk of heart disease or other cardiovascular events.

But even if antioxidants aren’t linked directly to heart health, they’re linked to other health benefits. And an overall healthy body will undoubtedly affect heart health, not to mention the other critical vitamins and minerals that foods containing antioxidants also contain.

Top Heart-Healthy Foods

Now that we’ve figured out a few important nutrients let’s look at some of the top foods that contain them.

Berries & Fruits

Packed with fiber, antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals, dark berries and fruits like oranges, apples, and bananas are delicious heart defenders. These foods are typically easily incorporated into an older adult’s diet through healthy snack choices.

Leafy Greens & Vegetables

Spinach, kale, and other leafy greens provide many nutrients, including iron, vitamin K, and nitrate, all known to promote heart health. Plus, many vegetables are excellent sources of dietary fiber. And it’s easy to incorporate a variety of vegetables into a diet, so an older adult doesn’t get sick of a particular food.

Whole Grains

Whole grains like oats and barley contain a heap of fiber, which becomes a significant part of the heart health equation. They also boast a range of vitamins and minerals supporting cardiovascular function and overall well-being.

Fatty Fish

Fatty fish, such as salmon and mackerel, are rich in omega-3 fatty acids. Incorporating these into their diet can strengthen the heart against age-related conditions. These omega fatty acids are also linked to improved brain health and function. So, an older adult who is at risk of developing dementia may benefit even more from increasing their omega fatty acid intake. One important note is to choose fish with lower levels of mercury.

Nuts & Seeds

A daily handful of almonds, walnuts, or flaxseeds delivers a punch of omega-3s, antioxidants, fiber, and healthy fats. Nuts and seeds are often very calorically dense because of the high-fat content, so if weight is a concern, these foods may be better as a light snack rather than a main course.

Legumes

Beans and lentils are low in fat and high in protein, fiber, and a variety of minerals. Legumes are also shown to potentially decrease cholesterol levels, control blood sugar levels, and increase healthy gut bacteria levels in addition to the protein and fiber content they have.

A group of older adults standing around a kitchen island that's filled with fruits, vegetables, and a blender, making fruit-infused water and smoothies

Embracing the Heart Health Journey

Encouraging loved ones to eat well is an act of love and respect that can dramatically influence their ability to age gracefully and maintain their independence. By fostering a love for these foods and the process of eating well, older adults embark on an empowering journey toward a hearty, fulfilling life.

However, family assistance isn’t the only way an older adult can maintain a heart-healthy diet. Finding a senior living community with a team of caregivers who believe in the power of good eating and staying active through a person’s golden years is invaluable. Call our team at Luna Senior Living and book a community tour. We’re happy to show you the difference that we can make in your loved one’s life.

Written by
Angela Clark

More Articles By
Angela Clark

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