Plant-Based Diets: 5 Tips for Heart HealthBrandermill Woods independent living angle

Plant-Based Diets: 5 Tips for Heart Health

Tuesday, March 7, 2023

Whether it’s for lifestyle or wellness, the team at Brandermill Woods is always looking for new ways to support our residents’ heart health. The connection between cardiovascular fitness and longevity is so strong that taking care of your heart might be the best thing you can do as you age, ensuring you enjoy your retirement to the fullest. A great way to boost your cardiovascular fitness is by modifying your diet, and we’ve got the tips below to get you started.

Fortunately, here in the 2020s, a heart-healthy diet doesn’t mean eating canned asparagus and tuna fish for every meal. One visit to our campus dining options will show you “heart-healthy” is synonymous with “delicious.” One recent development we are excited about is the rise of plant-based products. From Impossible Burgers, to the year-round availability of avocados, to the abundance of spices and flavorings—plant-based diets are trendy and tasty.

If you are looking for ways to incorporate a plant-based diet into your lifestyle, here are five tips to get started:

1. Eat a variety of fruits and vegetables.
Any time the topic of heart health comes up, our team is quick to recommend fruits and vegetables. Low in calories but rich in nutrients and antioxidants, colorful fruits and vegetables are miracles of nature. If you are a committed meat-and-potatoes eater, try adding one additional side of fruit or a vegetable to your meals. It doesn’t have to be big: a few stalks of grilled asparagus, some sautéed zucchini, an ear of corn. Or, to get more adventurous, try a little bok choy, or pick up a dragon fruit from the grocery store. You might not like everything you try, but this first step is about establishing the good habit of trying something new.

2. Explore recipes that focus on plants as the main ingredient.
Have you tried an Impossible Burger or a Beyond Meat burger? Flavor science has come a long way, and these twists on the meat-based hamburger are surprisingly juicy, savory and fun. If these types of meat alternatives aren’t your cup of tea, how about a pizza made with cauliflower dough? That’s right, oven-baked pizzas can now be made with plant-based crusts rather than dough. Cut the carbs, get some more veggies in your diet, and you might discover an all new you!

3. Incorporate healthy fats into your diet.
Meat is an excellent source of protein, but the downside to eating too much meat is all the saturated fat. If you shift toward a plant-based diet, you will still need protein and fats to give your muscles the energy they need to keep you moving. Avocados, peanut butter and seeds are an excellent base for an energy-rich meal. The news likes to poke fun at the youngsters about eating too much avocado toast, but have you tried it? Next time you have the opportunity, you might discover a new favorite meal!

One of the core avocado dishes is guacamole, which is incredibly easy to make at home. Here’s how: In a food processor, chop or puree 1/3 of an onion, a small jalapeño, a handful of cilantro and a clove of garlic. In a bowl, mash up two medium-sized avocados. (You cut an avocado by slicing it in half around a pit. Scoop out the pit with a spoon, and then scoop each half of the avocado into the bowl.) Add a pinch of salt and the juice from one lime. Mix the salt, lime and mashed avocado. Then mix in the chopped vegetables. Add more salt and lime juice to taste. You can mix this recipe up by adding some tomato or chopped pineapple. It’s delicious!

4. Go “nuts” for plant-based diets.
Nuts are an easy way to incorporate fats and proteins into a plant-based diet. While everyone loves the humble peanut, so many choices abound—almonds, cashews, pecans, walnuts and more! Some sea salt-dusted almonds are possibly the perfect heart-healthy snack, while chocolate-covered hazelnuts will satisfy anyone’s sweet tooth!

5. Talk with your primary care physician or a nutritionist.
Plant-based diets tend to be lower in unhealthy fats and salt, thus improving your heart health. But as any nutritionist will tell you, your body needs a particular blend of macronutrients (fats, carbohydrates, proteins) and micronutrients (vitamins and minerals). Before changing your diet, um, whole hog, we recommend you talk with your physician to ensure optimal nutrition. Here at Brandermill Woods, onsite doctors, nurses and wellness coaches are here to support you—and of course, our dining options give you everything you need and then some.

To take a tour of our campus, explore our wellness offerings, and check out the dining options, contact us today!