February is American Heart Month, a time set aside to focus on heart health and encourage healthy lifestyles, a designation that is important as heart disease is the leading cause of death in both men and women. In the United States alone, there are more than 610,000 deaths a year, and that number is only expected to grow.
In the effort of doing our part to bring awareness to heart disease, here at Piedmont HomeHealth we wanted to talk about one of the things everyone has control over that can help reduce the risks of heart disease — diet. Having a poor diet and being overweight are two factors that contribute to heart disease complications and death.
For seniors, paying attention to the foods we eat is important, in part because as we age, our bodies have a need for fewer calories. That means it’s even more important that what we do eat be good for our health. Here are a few things to incorporate into your overall diet in order to eat in a more heart-healthy way.
Reduce sodium intake. We all know this is easier said than done. Almost everything we eat that is processed or packaged contains sodium. It’s important to read nutrition labels to know just how much sodium you’re taking in each day. The recommended amount is 2,400 mg per day, but
reducing it down to 1,500 mg is even better for controlling high blood pressure. Reducing the amount of processed foods you eat is one way to lower sodium intake. You can also try cooking with less salt by substituting herbs and spices to season your favorite foods.
Cut back on added sugars. Sodas are one of the most popular culprits of added sugar into our diet, but did you know even things with a reputation for being “good for you” can be loaded with added sugars? Take a look at the nutrition label on a container of your favorite yogurt one day, and you might be surprised. Simple steps such as cutting back the amount of sugar you put in your coffee or looking for canned fruits in natural juices rather than syrup can help improve your diet.
Eat more fruits and vegetables. This is important for so many reasons, in addition to being good for your heart. Fruits and vegetables contain the vitamins and nutrients important for seniors, who need more calcium and Vitamin D than younger adults. They’re also a good source of fiber. Check out our list of local farmer’s markets to find some good places to stock up on local fruits and vegetables. Buying in season makes them even better!
For more ideas to incorporate healthy eating habits into your diet, check out EatRight.org, which has great resources for seniors.
At Piedmont HomeHealth, we are committed to helping everyone in the Winston-Salem area and Piedmont Triad region live a healthy, independent lifestyle. If you or a loved one is in need of help with meeting these goals, whether it’s making healthy meals or getting to the doctor, give us a call today. We’ll be glad to talk with you about our options to help east your worries.