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Heart Healthy Grocery List: What to Eat or Avoid

Eating well is key to good health – but which foods are the right ones to protect your heart? The answer is a little complex, but don’t worry. Just read on for a breakdown of what foods to avoid, which to eat and the role of superfoods in heart health.

What Foods Do Cardiologists Say to Avoid?

You might already be aware of the primary category of eats to avoid – salty, processed foods. These snacks are acceptable in small amounts, but overeating fat-laden convenience foods can cause all kinds of heart health issues. Red meat is another common culprit in poor cardiac health, especially processed meats like ham and sausage, both of which have been linked to increased cancer risk.

Here are some other foods heart patients should avoid:

  • Dessert and other high-sugar foods. The calories you get from desserts or sugary drinks don’t contribute to your nutrition, but they can contribute to poor health. Not only do they make you gain weight, but they also hurt your dental health, which has been linked to heart disease.
  • Energy drinks. Sounds logical, doesn’t it? Beverages high in caffeine can really tax your heart, increasing resting heart rate and potentially inducing problems like high blood pressure or arrythmia.
  • Saturated fats. Common cooking fats – like coconut oil – are higher in saturated fat than already-unhealthy fats like lard and butter. Science shows that oils high in saturated fats can create plaques and blockages in the circulatory system.

What Kind of Food Can a Heart Patient Eat?

First, it’s important for us to remind you that you should listen to your doctor’s dietary advice. They know your unique health history and current level of wellness, giving them the best ability to recommend diet modifications.

With that being said, you shouldn’t think of food in terms of what you can and can’t eat. That degree of self-restriction makes it more likely that you’ll binge on unhealthy foods after crashing out of a tough diet. Just remember to enjoy these foods in moderation. A healthful diet can often incorporate your favorite treats as long as you only eat them occasionally.

What is the Healthiest Food for Your Heart?

Some of the healthiest, most nutrient-packed foods you can eat – colloquially dubbed ‘superfoods’ – are also some of the tastiest. Here are a few you can find at your local grocer or farmer’s market:

  • Dark, leafy greens. You know the kind – collards, spinach, kale, mustard greens and all the rest. They don’t just add a splash of color to your plate – they add massive amounts of vitamins and minerals to your diet. They’re quite filling and high in fiber, too.
  • Beans and legumes. If you’re cutting some of the meat from your diet, it’s nice to have a protein-rich food to replace it. That’s what you’ll get if you start eating more beans! As an added benefit, they have some of the fats that your body needs to function but are low in saturated fat – a win-win.
  • Certain kinds of fish. Seafood high in omega-3 fatty acids can help lower your blood pressure and reduce the risk of heart attack. Try salmon, mackerel, herring, trout, sardines or tuna to get more omega-3 in your diet.
  • Berries. Blueberries and strawberries are loaded with anthocyanin – a nutrient thought to lower blood pressure and improve overall cardiovascular health.

Discover How We Encourage Healthier Eating

In both our memory care and nursing residences, seniors benefit from diet plans designed and managed by our team of care professionals. It’s a key part of our mission at Stratford Commons to promote the health and happiness of seniors in the Kansas City area. Contact us today to find out how we could help your loved one.