It’s never too late to sit down with your parents and talk about heart health facts. The truth is that heart disease isn’t just an issue older adults face. Doctors are finding younger adults with high blood pressure and high cholesterol. For that reason, your entire family should embrace these smart dietary changes.
Lower the Sodium Intake
The American Heart Association wants people to lower their salt intake to no more than 1,500 milligrams per day. While the current recommendation is 2,300, the association feels that 1,500 mg is better. That’s about ¾ of a teaspoon.
It’s easy to exceed the recommendations. One serving of Progresso Minestrone has 690 mg of sodium. Adding just a handful of potato chips and half a sandwich would add to that count. Cooking meals from scratch and avoiding processed ingredients is essential to lowering sodium intake.
Boost Fruit and Vegetable Consumption
Fresh produce is recommended by doctors and nutritionists. The sodium content in vegetables and fruit is minimal. A serving of cucumber has just 2 mg of sodium. And, as a matter of fact, an orange has no sodium at all.
Your family enjoys filling, healthy foods without a lot of sodium. They’ll get the sodium they need from their protein, dairy, and grain intake.
Fiber intake is important. Keep whole grains in the pantry. Fiber helps with digestive health, but it also helps lower blood pressure and lowers the risk of type 2 diabetes. That aids the heart.
For fiber, dried beans and lentils, whole grains like barley and quinoa, and fibrous vegetables like turnip are ideal. Keep jars of tomato barley soup in the refrigerator or freezer for quick fiber-rich meals.
To make this soup, mix a 28-ounce can of petite diced tomatoes with six cups of salt-free or low-salt vegetable broth, a cup and a half of barley, a bag of frozen lima beans, and a bag of frozen Italian vegetable blend. Put that into a slow cooker and cook on low for four hours. Add a bunch of chopped Swiss chard and let that cook until soft.
Once or twice a week, have fish for dinner. Fish that are high in omega-3 fatty acids, such as sardines, mackerel, or tuna, is best.
If your parents have a hard time monitoring their sodium and fiber intake, make sure they have assistance throughout the week. Caregivers are easy to arrange and offer reminders for medications, cook meals for your parents, and run errands.
Talk to a home care agency about these and other services caregivers offer. Your parents don’t have to struggle to live independently when you have caregivers stopping by.