In honor of February being National Heart Month, and of course, today being Valentine’s Day, we’re going to share some of the top heart healthy snacks for older adults. These are foods that you should most definitely work into your diet to help promote a healthy heart and Better Health.
Small But Mighty
The heart is the fourth largest internal organ of the body. It may seem small, roughly the size of your fist, but it’s a powerful organ that does a lot to keep your body functioning properly. Your heart beats about 115,000 times each day, and pumps about 2,000 gallons of blood every day. For your heart to stay healthy and continue to function as it should, you have to take precautions and do your part.
Heart disease remains the number one killer, claiming one life every 36 seconds in the United States. Fortunately, most cases of cardiovascular disease are preventable. As you age, your nutritional needs change, so it’s essential to be eating the right kinds of food to keep your heart in tip-top shape.
Go “Nuts” for Heart Health
Eating nuts as part of a healthy diet is great for your heart and overall health. Nuts are packed full of omega-3 fatty acids, fiber, and unsaturated fats. But not all nuts are created equal, however. Some are definitely better than others.
Snacking on almonds can help lower your LDL cholesterol and possibly assist in weight loss. One study found that people who ate 1.5 oz. of almonds daily had lower LDL cholesterol and had less belly and leg fat.
Walnuts are composed of 47 percent polyunsaturated fatty acids, with a significant amount of a specific type called alpha-linolenic acid. Alpha-linoleic acid helps reduce inflammation and reduce plaque buildup in coronary arteries.
Pistachios are also a great nut to aid in heart health. For example, they have been shown to help lower blood pressure when exposed to stress. And furthermore, people with diabetes who ate pistachios demonstrated a reduced risk of diabetes-related disease in the arteries.
Nuts should be eaten in moderation because eating too many can actually cause you to gain weight which then takes away from their heart benefits.
An Avocado A Day
You’ve heard the old adage, “an apple a day keeps the doctor away.” Well, the same can be said for an avocado a day. Avocados are a nutrient-dense food that is high in monosaturated fats. This healthy fat helps to keep your heart healthy by reducing cardiovascular inflammation and lowering your cholesterol.
Avocados pack a lot of calories, so again, this is an “in moderation” food. Avocados make a great heart healthy snack for older adults because of their high fiber content. You don’t have to eat much to feel and stay satisfied. Sliced avocado with a bit of lemon juice or smashed avocado on toast are great heart healthy snacks for older adults. They also make for a great breakfast, too!
Berry Good For Your Heart
These sweet treats don’t just help to satisfy your sweet tooth, but they also help to protect your heart. Berries are rich in antioxidants, which reduce inflammation and fight cell damage.
A study conducted by professors at the Harvard School of Public Health and Harvard Medical School found that eating blueberries and strawberries three times a week significantly improves heart health. These specific berries contain a chemical compound known as anthocyanins. Research shows that anthocyanins can help lower blood pressure and make blood vessels more elastic.
Blackberries and raspberries are also heart-healthy berries that make a great snack. But, as with most good things, you need to eat berries in moderation, especially if you have diabetes, because of their high sugar levels.
Make Time for Tea
Green tea, that is. Okay, so it isn’t food, but it is a great thing to have when you’re craving a snack. Afternoon tea can benefit your heart in many ways. Green tea, like berries, is chock-full of antioxidants. A little cup of tea can help reduce plaque buildup, keeping your arteries healthy and flexible.
Green tea is exceptionally high in flavonoids, powerful antioxidant agents that boost heart health by helping to lower bad cholesterol and reduce blood clotting. Studies have also shown that blood vessel function – blood flow in the arteries – can improve in as little as 30 minutes after drinking a cup of green tea.
Snack For Heart Health
We’ve been conditioned to think that snacking is bad, but heart healthy snacks for older adults can actually help to improve overall health. Of course, when you snack, it’s important to know what to eat and what not to eat. But by just adding in a few of these heart healthy snacks discussed above, you can reap so many heart benefits.
Cardiovascular disease is high in older adults, so preventive measures need to be taken. And one of the best ways to prevent heart disease is by eating a healthy diet. With so many things out of our control, let’s start taking control of the ones we can, starting with what we put into our bodies. Eat for heart health!