Heart health is key to living the lifestyle you crave during your next chapter of life. While the risk of cardiovascular disease increases with age – there are things you can do to mitigate those risks.
The foods you eat play a pivotal role in your overall health, and especially your heart health. Following a heart-healthy diet can lower your risk of chronic diseases like heart disease, or major cardiac events, like heart attacks. It also helps you maintain a healthy weight, which enables your cardiovascular system to function at its best.
Here are some heart-healthy dietary habits that you can implement today. However, before making changes to your diet, it’s important that you consult with your doctor first.
Eat More Leafy Greens
Green leafy vegetables, like kale, spinach, arugula, broccoli, and more, are packed with vitamins, minerals, and nutrients – and are lower calorie. One study found that higher consumption of green leafy vegetables lowered the incidence of events linked to cardiovascular disease, and could be helpful in the management and prevention of cardiovascular disease. Aim to eat about two cups of leafy greens per day.
Lower Salt and Sugar Intake
While your body needs some sodium to function, eating too much sodium can cause high blood pressure, which is a risk factor for heart disease and stroke. Sugary foods can increase your risk of obesity, diabetes, chronic inflammation, heart disease and cardiovascular mortality.
Choose unsalted foods, and if you need packaged items, look for “low sodium,” “no salt added” and “reduced sodium” labels. Instead of adding salt to your food, add different spices, herbs, types of vinegar or citrus juices to enhance its flavor.
There are also some things you can do to cut out sugar, too. Eliminate sugary drinks like sodas, heavily sweetened coffees and juices. If you’re craving something sweet, fruit is a great alternative – it’s nutritious, fiber-rich and doesn’t have any added sugar.
Steer Clear of Processed Foods
Let’s be honest – processed foods are delicious. Sodas, chips, crackers, processed meats like sausage or bacon, canned foods and soups, baked goods, and more, while tasty, are typically high in salt and sugar. A lot of processed foods are also low in protein, which doesn’t help to keep you satiated and can actually cause you to overeat. This, along with the fact that many processed foods have lower nutritional and higher caloric values, makes them a source of weight gain. Instead, opt for fresh or frozen foods that are additive-free.
Consume Alcohol in Moderation
Excess alcohol consumption is linked to a higher risk of heart disease and stroke. This is because it can increase your heart rate and blood pressure. Men should limit themselves to two alcoholic drinks per day and women should only have one per day.
Focus On Whole Grains
Simple carbs, like white bread and white rice, metabolize into sugar quickly after consumption and can spike your blood sugar. Whole grain foods are higher in fiber and slow to digest, helping you feel fuller longer, improving digestion and regulating your blood sugar.
Whole grain foods can help lower your risk of heart disease along with a host of other chronic illnesses. Incorporate whole wheat foods, oatmeal, brown and wild rice, popcorn and quinoa into your diet in place of processed, simple carbs.
Opt for Lean Protein
Since you need protein to survive, it’s important that you consume it – but you want to make sure it’s good quality. All animal products have some cholesterol in them, so choosing lean proteins can help lower your fat intake and support a healthy heart. Lean meats, like lean ground beef, pork tenderloin, skinless chicken and turkey breast, as well as fish, are all great sources of low-fat protein. You can also opt for eggs and reduced-fat dairy products, like cottage cheese or skim milk, to get your protein in.
Focus On Your Health at The Stayton
As a premier retirement lifestyle community in Fort Worth, Texas, The Stayton is proud to empower our residents to live a healthy lifestyle physically, mentally, spiritually, emotionally and socially. With nutritious chef-prepared meals, exercise classes, enriching services, amenities, and events and wellness plans tailored to each resident’s unique needs, you can easily thrive in retirement.
Wondering what life at The Stayton can look like for you? Contact us today to explore options at your future home – our dedicated team is happy to help.