(Today’s post comes from , Kimberly Hammon, MS, RD, LDN at NorthShore University HealthSystem.)
Many people wait to educate themselves about their health only after a diagnosis. However, lifestyle changes and early prevention measures can help lower your risk of becoming one of the 600,000 people who are affected by heart disease every year.
It is even more important for senior citizens to actively pay attention to their health. As you age, you may be at a greater risk of developing heart disease. The good news is that there are steps you can take to reduce your chances. It is never too late to take control of your health.
A nutritious diet is one of your best defenses against heart disease. Use these tips and ideas to follow a heart healthy diet:
Eat your fruits and vegetables. Fruits and vegetables are rich in vitamins and minerals. Try to eat as many of them as you can every day, especially green leafy vegetables. According to MyPlate, half of your plate should be filled with fruits and veggies.
Tip: If you have trouble chewing, lightly steam your vegetables to make them softer. Resist the urge to add butter and salt to them when cooking.
Choose fresh foods. Eating fresh and homemade foods will help you better control your daily sodium intake. Fast food and processed foods tend to be extremely high in sodium which can raise blood pressure and increase your chances of developing heart disease.
Tip: Cook meals at home. Speed up the cooking process by utilizing frozen vegetables. Most are packed with little to no salt and are just as healthful as their fresh counterparts.
Eat foods containing omega-3 fatty acids – the good fat. Salmon and nuts are a great source of omega 3’s.
Tip: Nuts are a healthier alternative to chips and other salty snacks. Pack a small plastic bag of nuts and carry them around with you to snack on during the day. Nuts contain plenty of good fat but are high in calories, so you’ll want to watch your portion size.
Pay attention to what you eat. It is very easy to eat the wrong foods, especially when you do not realize it. By keeping track of what you eat you will become more aware of the choices you make – both healthy and unhealthy.
Tip: Utilize all of the new technology that has been created to make our lives easier. Keep your log of what you eat on your phone; this way it will be handy at all times.
Utilize healthier cooking methods. It’s not just what you eat, but also how you cook it. Steaming, broiling or baking your food are healthier options than frying.
Tip: Select a cooking oil that’s best for your health if you need to use oil. Olive oil or even non-stick spray can be good options.
Small changes make a big difference. Focusing on daily changes can create a healthier lifestyle – before you know it you’ll be making great strides to improve your overall health and wellness. Educate your family about how to live a healthier lifestyle and use each other for support.
NorthShore University HealthSystem is a comprehensive, fully integrated, healthcare delivery system that serves the Chicago region. With leading hospitals in Chicago and the surrounding area, NorthShore features a multispecialty cardiovascular care team that provides individuals with personalized care to help with heart disease prevention.