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5 Foods That Promote and Improve Heart Health

October 15th, 2023

Eating a well-balanced diet that includes heart healthy foods is essential for maintaining good health. As we age, it’s even more important to keep track of what we eat, as healthy eating can prevent serious conditions like heart disease. If you’re looking to improve your diet and add more healthy heart foods, take a look at the top 5 foods to try that are good for your overall health, and your heart.

Why You Need Heart Healthy Foods

Heart healthy foods play a crucial role in maintaining a healthy heart and preventing cardiovascular diseases. Heart healthy foods, like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins are rich in essential nutrients, antioxidants, and fibre. These foods can help lower cholesterol levels, reduce blood pressure, and promote overall heart health. By incorporating food for heart health into our diet, we can reduce the risk of heart disease, strokes, and other heart-related conditions. Eating food to improve heart health is important at any age, but as we get older, age becomes more of a risk factor for many common heart-related illnesses. A diet rich in heart healthy foods can also help you maintain a healthy weight, improve digestion, boost energy levels, and enhance your wellbeing.

The Best Heart Healthy Foods

The key to eating healthily is to have a well-balanced diet. This means pairing good sources of protein, such as meat, fish or beans, with starchy carbohydrates, like potatoes, rice and pasta, and then adding a good portion of fruit and vegetables to every meal too. Let’s take a look at what to put on your plate if you want to make sure you’re eating the right food to improve heart health:

1. Leafy Green Vegetables 

Leafy, green vegetables are all packed full of vitamins and antioxidants, such as vitamin C, vitamin A and iron. You can add green vegetables to lots of meals, so try to include them at lunch and dinner time. As well as being a great food for heart health, leafy green vegetables are versatile and nourishing, and can be easily included in many meals and in soft food recipes for the elderly

Try adding the following greens to your next meal: 

  • Cabbage 
  • Sprouts 
  • Spinach 
  • Broccoli
  • Kale  
  • Lettuce

2. Wholegrains

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There have been myths in the past about carbohydrates being bad for you, but this isn’t the case. We all need a good amount of healthy carbohydrates each day in order to maintain energy levels. Alongside eating the right food to improve heart health, doing daily exercise is also essential for a healthy heart. Wholegrains are a good source of healthy carbohydrates, which then gives us the energy we need to take on activities, be that passive exercise like gardening or a gentle workout such as yoga.  

Whole grains also contain fibre, which promotes good bowel health. Some forms of fibre have also been shown to decrease cholesterol levels. Starchy carbohydrates are the best choices, as they are high in fibre and release glucose into the blood slower than high sugar food and drinks. 

Healthy whole grain food for heart health includes:

  • Whole grain bread
  • Brown rice
  • Pasta  
  • Quinoa 
  • Barley 
  • Oatmeal

3. Fruit

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A rundown of food to improve heart health obviously has to include fruit. Just like consuming wholegrains, eating fruit adds to our fibre intake. Berries are a particularly good food for heart health. Research shows that regularly eating berries can reduce several risk factors for heart disease. Berries make the perfect quick snack on their own or can be added to flavoured yoghurt for a quick, wholesome dessert.

Next time you’re peckish, try a handful of these heart healthy foods

  • Raspberries 
  • Blueberries
  • Strawberries 
  • Blackberries

4. Fatty fish 

Good fats, such as omega 3s, are beneficial for our health. According to the NHS website, we should have two portions of fatty fish each week. Fatty fish includes salmon or mackerel, which are rich in omega 3 fatty acids and are therefore ideal healthy heart foods. Remember, opt for baked, steamed, or grilled fish. Regularly eating fried fish is bad for our health due to the saturated fat. So, although fish is a brilliant food for heart health, it can quickly be bad for us if not cooked in a healthy way. 

5. Nuts and seeds 

Nuts and seeds are incredibly good healthy heart foods because they contain unsaturated fats and omega 3s. In fact, studies show that consuming nuts massively improves the lining of your arteries, lowers levels of inflammation linked to heart disease, and prevents the development of blood clots.

Although nuts and seeds are healthy, they are also about 80% fat, which amounts to a lot of calories. Too much salt can also be detrimental to heart health and it’s best for seniors to stick to low salt meals and snacks. Therefore, when consuming nuts as a food to improve heart health, try to stick to a handful of unsalted nuts a day. Almonds, cashews, and walnuts are all good options.

Foods To Avoid For Heart Health

We know that everything can be good for us in moderation. However, regularly consuming processed foods, foods high in saturated fat, and alcohol is detrimental to your health. These types of food often increase cholesterol and blood pressure and, when consumed frequently, can negatively impact heart health. 

If you are assessing your diet and looking to avoid certain food to improve heart health, then you might want to steer clear of the following:

  • Sugary and fizzy drinks 
  • Deep fried foods 
  • Processed foods, including microwave meals, sausages, and bacon 
  • Chocolate
  • Cake
  • Biscuits
  • Pastries
  • Pies

Other Ways To Promote Heart Health

Looking after your body as a whole has a positive impact on heart health, and makes you feel better in general. Here are a few other factors to consider when it comes to positively improving heart health and general wellbeing.

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Hydration 

It’s not only heart healthy foods we should think about. Drinking enough water is essential too. Aim to have about 6 glasses of water each day. One of our top tips is to have a glass of water with each meal in order to increase fluid intake. This doesn’t have to be just water. Fluids like milk, soup, and fruit juice all count towards our fluid intake. 

Vitamins & Minerals

Our immune system needs healthy, nutritious food in order to work effectively and protect us against viruses and infections. This means eating food rich in essential vitamins and minerals – for example, Zinc, Vitamin C, and Vitamin A. As winter creeps up on us, we become more prone to illnesses, which is why it’s so important to maintain healthy eating habits to give our bodies the best chance of fighting them off. 

Treats

Maybe you love a nice slice of cake, or you enjoy cheese. Eating this sort of food is good for us in moderation and will ensure we continue to enjoy ourselves. Finding joy in the everyday is just one way to stay young at heart, and not restricting yourself too much means you’re more likely to stick to healthy eating and heart healthy foods long term. 

Energy

The phrase ‘you are what you eat’ really holds true, so it’s no surprise that fuelling your body with good, nutritious foods will result in higher energy levels. Eating healthier for a long period of time will drastically improve your energy levels and keep you more active mentally and physically. Along with getting a good sleep, a healthy diet is one of the best ways to feel great every day. 

Overall Health 

Research shows that healthy eating can prevent up to 80% of premature heart disease and stroke diagnoses. Making different lifestyle choices, such as increasing physical activity and eating healthily is as simple as it gets. The foods we put into our bodies can reduce our blood pressure and prevent heart disease.

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Healthy Choices At New Care Homes 

We’re dedicated to ensuring all of our residents have the happiest and healthiest lifestyle possible. We work with healthcare professionals to make sure individual dietary requirements are met and that every resident is given heart healthy foods. We cater for residents with a range of health conditions and intolerances that require a carefully considered diet, including those living with dementia who may have eating problems. A healthy diet also needs to be coupled with light exercise or movement, which is equally important to us at New Care.

If you’d like more information about our care services and how we contribute to the health and wellbeing of our residents, please feel free to contact us for more information. We’d be delighted to speak with you.