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Heart Healthy Habits for Seniors: World Heart Day

By September 29, 2015Archives

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States for both men and women. Many aging health issues affect the heart. However, it is not difficult to prevent the onset of heart disease. Physical exercise and a healthier diet can go a long way to keeping one’s heart healthy.

The advice to “eat healthy” applies to everyone, but especially seniors who want to protect their cardiac health. An improved, healthy diet leads to an improved, healthy quality of life, as proven by numerous scientific studies. Whether a senior’s personal preference is fruit, vegetables, protein or dairy products, each choice increases health in its own way.

Only baby steps are required to make positive changes in a senior’s life. If s/he has trouble sticking to a routine, family members and caregivers can assist in engaging in a new exercise or eating regimen with the senior. Don’t attempt to change the entire habitual meal at one sitting. Make changes gradually, reducing the use of salt or butter one week, and increasing fruits and vegetables the next.

When it comes to selecting fruits and vegetables, a variety of colors will guarantee a variety of nutrients are on the plate. A good example is the red tomato, dense in lutein. Lutein is a rich nutrient for the heart and eyes. “Low in calories, high in vitamins” should become a motto for seniors. Vitamins, minerals, and fiber are the necessary ingredients to a proper diet. Adults in general should be eating at least five servings per day of fruits and vegetables to guarantee that they get enough of these three powerhouses of nutrition.

When it comes to meat, the less fatty, the better. Cuts which have “loin” after their name, such as sirloin or tenderloin, are usually the leaner cuts. Simply looking at a cut of meat will tell you how fatty it is because you can see the fat. Ground meats will often have 20 percent less fat than unground, whether it’s chicken or pork or beef, and are always visibly marked with the fat content.

In terms of selecting heart healthy dairy products, look for “reduced fat” labels. Yogurt, milk, cheeses, and other dairy products are readily available with reduced fat. Butter should be avoided, and with multiple substitutes availabl,e it is a dietary change that can be made without causing too much disruption to the a senior.

A healthy heart requires physical activity in addition to a healthy diet. Many seniors can be overwhelmed at the prospect of making a drastic change and beginning to exercise. However, a massive change is not required. Walking for 30 minutes each day will greatly improve the health of an older person. This can be achieved by going for two 15 minute walks at different times of day. Even moderate amounts of exercise will improve various ailments from diabetes to heart disease, while also strengthening bones, muscles and ligaments.

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