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Happier Hearts in Seniors: Heart-Healthy Diet
Adults 65 and older are much more likely than younger people to suffer a heart attack, have a stroke, or to develop coronary artery disease and heart failure. Heart disease is a major cause of disability, eroding the quality of life of millions of older people.
One of the best ways we can help control and prevent these diseases is through a heart healthy diet. Here are some tips to get your diet on track to take control over your health: 
  1. Eat the rainbow.

    Fruits and vegetables are good sources of vitamins and minerals, and rich in dietary fiber. They also contain substances that may help prevent cardiovascular disease. Keep fruits and vegetables washed and cut in your refrigerator for quick snacks. Choose recipes that have veggies or fruits as the main ingredients, such as vegetable stir fry or fresh fruits mixed into salads.
  1. Select whole grains.

    Incorporating more whole grains in your diet can play a role in regulating blood pressure and heart health. Increase the amount of whole grains in a heart-healthy diet by making simple substitutions for refined grain products. For example, instead of white rice, opt for brown rice, barley, or quinoa. Trade white bread and white, refined flour for whole-grain bread and whole wheat flour. Incorporate oatmeal or steel-cut oats into your breakfast rather than sugar-packed cereals or a muffin. Whole grains also leave you feeling fuller for longer, and prevent any blood sugar spikes.
  1. Choose lean protein sources.

    Limiting how much saturated and trans fat you eat is important in reducing blood cholesterol and in lowering the risk of coronary artery disease. You can reduce the amount of saturated fat in your diet by trimming fat off your meat or choosing lean meats with less than 10 percent fat. You can also add less butter, margarine, and shortening when cooking and serving. Here are some food options to help you make better decisions about the amount of fat in your diet:
  • Lean meat, poultry, fish, low-fat dairy products, and eggs are excellent sources of lean protein.
  • Legumes (beans, peas, and lentils) are also a good source of protein and contain less fat and no cholesterol, making them good substitutes for meat.
  • Some proteins to limit or avoid include full fat milk and other dairy products, organ meats (such as liver), fatty and marbled meats, spareribs, hot dogs and sausages, bacon, and fried or breaded meats. 
  1. Reduce the sodium in your food.

    Consuming large amounts sodium can contribute to high blood pressure, a risk factor for cardiovascular disease. Much of the salt you eat comes from canned or processed foods, such as soups, baked goods, and frozen dinners. Eating fresh foods and making your own soups and stews can reduce the amount of sodium you consume. Here are some alternatives that can decrease the amount of sodium used in your foods:
  • Season with herbs and spices and limit the amount of table salt used
  • Opt for reduced-salt canned soups or prepared meals. Limit the intake of frozen dinners.
  • Limit the use of condiments such as ketchup, mayonnaise, and soy sauce.
  • Be cautious of restaurant meals, which typically contain a large amount of sodium. 
  1. Allow yourself an occasional treat.

    It’s okay to allow yourself an indulgence every now and then! A steak or handful of potato chips won’t derail your heart-healthy diet—but don’t let it turn into an excuse for giving up on your diet plan. What’s important is that you eat healthy foods most of the time. Consistency is key.
To encourage heart-healthy foods, Happier at Home can help with grocery shopping for a well-balanced diet. Let our caregivers help to prepare you a delicious, heart-healthy meal!
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