Creating a Healthy Heart Diet

A healthy diet leads to a healthy heart. A well-balanced diet filled with heart-healthy foods has many benefits including helping you manage your weight, reducing blood pressure and cholesterol and improving your mental health.

While a heart-healthy diet is important throughout all of life, this is especially so for the older generation. As we age, it is common to encounter challenges such as appetite loss or trouble cooking and meal planning. This can affect the overall health and wellbeing of people in their later years and limit their ability to continue living independent lives in their own homes.

Here we have put together some useful tips for creating your own heart-healthy diet. Remember that before beginning any new diet plan, it’s always a good idea to discuss it with your GP.

Tips for a well-balanced diet

Eating healthy is one of the best ways that you can improve your heart health. Here are several tips for creating your own well-balanced diet filled with heart-healthy foods.

5 a day

Fruits and vegetables are a fundamental part of any heart-healthy diet and the NHS recommends that you eat at least 5 a day. That’s 5 portions of fruit and veg in total, not 5 portions of each. They can be fresh, frozen, canned, dried or juiced. A portion of fruit or vegetables is 80g. To get the most out of your 5 a day, aim to eat a wide variety of different types and colours of fruit and vegetables.

Limit salt intake

Eating too much salt (sodium) can increase your risk of high blood pressure. Although reducing the amount of salt you add to your cooking is a good first step, the majority of salt in our diets comes from canned and processed foods. Read nutritional labels and choose foods that are lower in sodium.

Choose low-fat protein sources

While protein is important for heart health, you want to limit your intake of saturated fats by choosing lean meat, poultry, fish and low-fat dairy products. Legumes such as beans, lentils and peas are also good, heart-healthy sources of protein. Another healthy option is to substitute your regular choices with a plant-based alternative – for instance, swapping a hamburger for a bean or soy burger.

Limit unhealthy fats

When creating a diet for a healthy heart, it is important to limit how much saturated and trans fats you consume. Limiting unhealthy fats can help reduce cholesterol and lower your risk of coronary artery disease. Swap foods with saturated and monounsaturated fats with heart-healthy choices like peanut butter, seeds, nuts, avocados and olive oil. You can also use less butter, margarine and shortening when cooking and serving.

Choose whole grains

Whole grains are an excellent source of dietary fibre and other nutrients that play a role in regulating blood pressure and keeping your heart healthy. You can increase the amount of dietary fibre you eat by simply substituting your usual refined grain products like cereals, grains or pastas with whole grain alternatives. You can also be adventurous and try new whole grains such as farro or barley.

Control your portion size

While there’s nothing wrong with the occasional large meal, overloading your plate often or eating until you feel stuffed can lead to eating more calories than you should. Without measuring out your ingredients it can be easy to consume more calories, salt or unhealthy fats than you realise. Using a small plate or cup is one easy way to help you control your portions. The British Heart Foundation also has a useful interactive portion guide along with tips on eating a balanced diet.

Heart-healthy foods

These are some of the healthiest foods for the heart that you can incorporate into your existing diet for better heart health.

  • Leafy, green vegetables. Vegetables like spinach, kale and collard greens are known for their heart-healthy vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.
  • Berries. Strawberries, blueberries, blackberries and raspberries are filled with antioxidants that can reduce several risk factors for heart disease.
  • Nuts. Heart-healthy foods like nuts are a great source of fibre and other macronutrients that can help protect against heart disease.
  • Avocados. Rich in heart-healthy monounsaturated fats, avocados have been linked to lower levels of cholesterol and a reduced risk of heart disease.
  • Fatty fish. Fish like salmon, mackerel, sardines and tuna are packed with omega-3 fatty acids which may have a protective role in the risk of developing heart disease.
  • Beans. Besides being packed with protein, beans, lentils and other legumes also contain magnesium, iron and potassium. Multiple studies have shown that eating beans can reduce certain risk factors for heart disease.
  • Dark chocolate. Consuming dark chocolate in moderation may lower your risk of heart disease since dark chocolate is rich in antioxidants like flavonoids.
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 Expert home care, for all of life

At Prestige Nursing & Care, we are dedicated to making it as easy as possible for you to lead a healthy and active lifestyle. For over 75 years, we have been trusted by families up and down the country to provide care for all of life, evolving the level and type of care we provide to meet changing needs.

We provide care and support packages that enable you to live a happy and fulfilled life in the safety and comfort of your own home. The support we provide will be guided by you and tailored to your needs, giving you a choice over how you live your life and the support you want.

Our dedicated carers can provide a variety of services that can help you develop a healthier lifestyle and maintain your independence including:

  • Meal planning and cooking healthy and nutritious meals
  • Light housekeeping
  • Encouraging exercise, as directed by your healthcare provider
  • Assistance with personal care, including bathing and toileting
  • Assistance with shopping
  • Medication management
  • Escorting you to doctor appointments or other engagements

Find out why our clients choose Prestige Nursing & Care for a high-quality, responsive home care service.