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Heart Health Month: Foods for Heart Health

February heralds "Heart Health Month", a month filled with education about heart disease among both men and women and positive steps people can take to promote their own heart health. Heart disease refers to various medical conditions where the blood vessels and arteries in or near the heart become narrow, clogged or blocked. When this happens, oxygen and vital nutrients cannot make their way to the heart. The result can be a stroke, heart attack, coronary heart disease or angina.

Heart disease is more common among older people, with most people suffering a heart attack being over 65 years old. It is the leading cause of death for both men and women, so definitely something everyone needs to be thinking about. However, heart disease is not something that elderly people should just accept as a part of natural aging. While age, gender and your family history are risk factors that are out of our control, eating a healthy diet and engaging in regular exercise are two ways we can control the health of our heart.

At Heritage Health skilled nursing facilities, a balanced and nutritious diet is part of every resident's care plan. Specific menus for various medical conditions are available, including heart-healthy options. It is important to avoid diets heavy in saturated and trans fats (fatty meats, too much cheese, etc). These foods will not only send your cholesterol reaching for the sky, but will build up fatty deposits in your coronary arteries and increase your risk for heart disease. Obesity and high blood pressure, often a result of eating too much of these unhealthy foods, are also risk factors for developing heart disease.

Delicious Foods for Heart Health:

  • Colorful fruits and vegetables. Nutrient-dense and full of vitamins, minerals and fiber, fruits and veggies pack a punch in the healthy foods division. Berries are especially good as they contain large amounts of phytonutrients and soluble fiber. A yummy spinach salad or a snack of carrots or red peppers are also good for your heart.

  • Dark Chocolate. It wouldn't be February without chocolate delights around every corner. Chocolate is high in fat, so it is still something to be enjoyed in moderation (about an ounce a day). However, the darker versions of this treat provide benefits to your heart because the flavanols in dark chocolate help lower blood pressure and improve blood flow to both the heart and the brain.

  • Flaxseeds. Ground flaxseeds provide more health benefit than eating the raw seeds. This is because the hard shell on the seeds is difficult for our stomachs to break down. Using the ground version allows better absorption of the healthy omega-3 fatty acids that are protective of our hearts and arteries. Foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids decrease inflammation in the body that can cause damage to blood vessels and lead to a stroke or heart attack. They work to decrease triglycerides and lower blood pressure. You can sprinkle the ground flaxseeds into oatmeal, smoothies, water or juice, or any other food.

  • Walnuts. Like flaxseeds, walnuts have an incredibly high concentration of those heart-protecting omega-3 fatty acids. Almonds are another healthy nut that can give your heart a healthy boost. Whole Grains. Refined and overly processed flours and sugars are not friendly to our hearts. Whole grains are excellent sources of dietary fiber which helps to lower cholesterol, the risk of heart disease, obesity and stroke.

  • Fish. In addition to being a first-rate source of protein, fish like salmon, trout and tuna are high in those wonderful omega-3 fatty acids.

If you would like to know more about the heart-healthy diets available at Heritage Health, speak with the culinary director or one of our on-staff dietitians. It is important to take care of your heart – the dietary changes you make for heart health will reap many other positive health benefits! Learn more about the services available at Heritage Health by visiting our website.

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Wednesday, August 21, 2019

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Heritage Operations Group is proud to provide the senior population in Illinois with rehabilitative therapy services, skilled nursing care, specialized Alzheimer’s and dementia care, assisted and supportive living, independent living and pharmacy services.

 

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