Most seniors struggle with eating because they lose their appetite due to age-related health issues. When a senior limits their food intake, it gets more difficult to meet the daily requirement of nutrients needed for optimal health. Smoothies are a delicious and convenient way to get the nutrients we need, and with the right ingredients, they can be a great addition to a heart-healthy diet.
The Benefits of Smoothies for Heart Health
Smoothies allow us to pack a lot of nutrients into a single serving. By blending together, a variety of fruits, vegetables, and other healthy ingredients, we can create a nutrient-dense drink that supports overall health, including heart health. In addition, many of the ingredients commonly used in smoothies, such as fruits and vegetables, are high in fiber. This is important for heart health because fiber helps to lower cholesterol levels and reduce the risk of heart disease.
How can we make smoothies especially beneficial for heart health? Let’s take a look at the building blocks to making a heart-healthy smoothie.
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Ingredients for Heart Healthy Smoothies
Step 1- Liquid Base
Choosing the right liquid base for smoothie is important because it can affect the flavor, texture, and nutritional value. Consider food preference, allergies, flavor and texture before choosing the base. Here are a few common liquid base options that seniors can choose to make delicious heart-healthy smoothies.
- For those who can consume dairy, low-fat cow’s milk is a great option. While some prefer using water, using milk will have added nutritional benefits and flavor.
- Seniors who follow a vegan diet can opt for hemp milk or plant-based milks, such soy, almond, coconut, or oat milk.
- Seniors with lactose intolerance can choose plant-based alternatives such as almond, coconut, or soy milk. Lactose-free milk is also great options for smoothies.
- For a thicker smoothie base, yogurt or low-fat Greek yogurt can be used. Yogurt contains calcium, protein, and other essential nutrients that can help improve cardiac health.
Step 2 - Main Ingredients
- Pomegranate – Loaded with punic acid, it is a heart-healthy ingredients that can help maintain cholesterol levels.
- Banana– One of the most popular fruits used in smoothies, banana is rich in potassium, which is vital for managing blood pressure.
- Berries – Studies have shown that eating blackberries, blueberries, strawberries, and raspberries can significantly reduce the risk of stroke and other cardiovascular diseases. Adding berries to a smoothie is an easy way to reap the benefits of their antioxidants, fiber, and vitamins.
- Avocado – It is an excellent source of healthy fats linked to reducing cholesterol levels in the bloodstream. Avocados’ high dietary fiber content can significantly reduce inflammation, leading to a healthy heart.
- Citrus fruits– Oranges, lemons, and grapefruits, are high in vitamin C and other antioxidants, which can help support heart health.
- Stone fruits – Peaches, plums, and cherries, are high in fiber and antioxidants, and can add a sweet, juicy flavor to your smoothie.
Apart from these options, seniors can also include any other seasonal fruit available in their smoothies.
Green leafy vegetables are well known for their wealth of minerals, antioxidants, and vitamins. They are a rich source of Vitamin K and help decrease arterial stiffness and improve blood vessels’ function. Here are a few examples of leafy greens and vegetables that can be added to heart-healthy smoothies:
- Spinach: Spinach is high in fiber, potassium, and antioxidants and has a mild flavor that pairs well with various fruits and other smoothie ingredients.
- Kale: Kale is high in fiber, vitamins K and A, and antioxidants and has a slightly bitter taste that can add depth to your smoothie.
- Swiss chard: Swiss chard is high in fiber, vitamins K and A, and antioxidants and has a slightly sweet and bitter taste.
- Cucumber: Cucumbers are high in water content, making them a refreshing and hydrating addition to smoothies. They are also a good source of fiber and vitamins K and C.
When adding leafy greens and vegetables to your smoothie, it’s a good idea to start with a small amount and gradually increase the amount as you get used to the taste.
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3. Whole grains
Generally, fruits and veggies are used as the main ingredient for smoothies. Following are a few heart-healthy grain you can include in your smoothies to add bulk.
- Oats: Oats are high in fiber, protein, and antioxidants and can add a creamy, thick texture to your smoothie. They are also a good source of beta-glucan, a type of soluble fiber shown to lower cholesterol levels and reduce the risk of heart disease.
- Quinoa: Quinoa is high in protein, fiber, and a variety of minerals and has a slightly nutty flavor that pairs well with many smoothie ingredients.
- Buckwheat: Buckwheat is high in fiber, protein, and a variety of minerals and has a slightly nutty flavor.
Step 3- Flavor Boosters & Toppings
Taste enhancers for smoothies are often called flavor boosters. Adding flavor boosters to smoothies can make them more nutrient-dense and delicious.
- Spice it up – adding a pinch of spices to a smoothie can be a tasty way to enhance its flavor. Adding cinnamon, nutmeg powder, ginger, or turmeric to a smoothie gives it a rich and complex flavor. Cinnamon and ginger can help reduce blood pressure and improve circulation. While nutmeg and turmeric have anti-inflammatory properties.
- Superfoods – Chia seeds, hemp seeds, flax seeds are tiny wonders that are a healthy addition to the diet. These ingredients used as a topping have fiber and antioxidant properties, which help lower cholesterol levels and reduce the risk of heart disease.
A balanced and healthy diet is vital to enjoying the golden years. A delicious smoothie can help start the day off with a lower fat and calorie intake while providing all the essential nutrients the heart desires for optimal function.
Before making any changes in the diet especially for older adults, it is always a good idea to check with a senior care provider. Contact EliteCare Health Centres, by visiting our website or contact us for making an appointment.