Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States, but there are steps you can take to reduce your risk. Aside from regular activity and smoking cessation, following a heart-healthy diet full of heart-healthy foods is one of the best ways to improve your heart health after age 60.
But what is a heart-healthy diet? Here’s what you need to know.
How To Improve Heart Health Through Diet
A heart-healthy diet doesn’t have to be difficult to follow. Here are some easy ways to improve your heart health with better food and drink options. However, before making changes to your diet, be sure to speak with your doctor.
Eat More Greens
Leafy green vegetables are full of vitamins and minerals your body needs to function its best. Foods like lettuce, spinach and other greens also offer the added benefit of increased satiety (the “full” feeling after eating) with less overall caloric intake.
The effects of eating more fruits and vegetables can be significant. One analysis found as much as a 4% reduction in risk of death from cardiovascular disease with every serving of fruits and vegetables.
Avoid Processed Foods
Processed foods often contain added ingredients like salt, sugar and fat to improve taste and texture or change the physical properties of the product, such as an increased shelf life. As a result, many people consume these substances in amounts higher than health guidelines recommend. The result is increased body fat, higher risk of cardiovascular disease and overall poor health.
To make healthier choices, build your diet around whole foods like fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains and other foods that have not been extensively processed. While high-quality foods may not always be immediately available to you, a good rule of thumb is to choose foods that are as close to their original form as possible.
Choose Leaner Proteins
Higher fat proteins like red meat can be part of a healthy diet. However, many of these meats are high in fat and calorically dense. While protein plays an important role in your diet, leaner protein options may be healthier for you.
Examples of lean proteins include:
- White fish like cod and halibut
- Beans, peas and lentils
- White-meat poultry like chicken breasts
- Low-fat cottage cheese
Drink Less Alcohol
While there’s evidence to suggest that small amounts of alcohol can be good for your heart, researchers have yet to determine if this is correlation or causation. What’s not disputed is the fact that heavy drinking can lead to many health problems, including high blood pressure or heart damage.
Still looking to imbibe? Women should consume no more than one drink per day, and men should drink no more than two drinks per day.
Focus On Moderation
While improving your diet is important, nobody’s perfect. It’s okay to occasionally indulge in sweets, treats and even alcohol. However, it’s important to moderate your consumption of less healthy food and drink options. Focus on sustainable choices and habits for best results.
Make the bulk of your diet healthy, nutrient-dense foods while working in small treats from time to time. You can also save them for special occasions.
Focus on Your Health at Claridge Court
If you’re planning for retirement in Kansas City, our welcoming senior living community at Claridge Court could be the perfect place for you to continue living your life to the fullest. With enriching wellness options and five-star health services, it’s easy to make your health a priority when you join our community.