Because seniors face an increased risk of chronic disease. Both cardiovascular and heart disease are of particular concern. The American Heart Association has included eating a heart-healthy diet as one of the most important aspects of senor health.
Let’s explore some of our dietitians’ tips for making your assisted living menus more heart-healthy.
Tip 1: Apply Philosophies of the Mediterranean Diet to Nursing Home Menus
Health experts, including doctors at the Mayo Clinic, recommend adopting the concepts of the Mediterranean diet to improve heart health for seniors.
This means increasing the amount of vegetables in your menus, especially dark, leafy greens and those with bright, vibrant colors. Vegetable soup and roasted carrots are both popular senior menu items.
Adding as many fiber-rich, whole grain products as possible, use heart-healthy oils and switch out fresh fruit for snacks and processed desserts as often as possible.
Tip 2: Adopt Heart-Healthy Cooking Methods
Even if you aren’t using fried foods in your nursing home menus – not too often, at least – some cooking methods are less heart-healthy than others.
Steaming, for example, is not always the best approach for cooking, especially for vegetables. Boiling or over-steaming strips both the flavor and the nutrients from vegetables.
Braising and roasting are much better for preserving the flavor and nutritional value of meats and vegetables. And, because you can use stock or broth in these methods, you’ll have no need to add any additional fats.
Tip 3: Reduce Fats Naturally in Nursing Home Menus
A heart-healthy senior diet is low in saturated fats. Saturated fats raise cholesterol levels as well as increasing the risk of heart disease and stroke. These fats are found most often in meats and dairy products.
Rather than switch to prepared foods that are identified as “low fat,” take a more holistic approach to reducing the amount of saturated fats in your nursing home recipes. Foods that have been chemically altered to reduce fat almost always have added sugars and other chemicals to maintain flavor. These additives are, in many ways, as bad as the natural fat itself – or worse.
Rather than use processed low-fat foods, add more nursing home menu items with skinless white meat chicken, lean pork and fish. Nuts, beans and legumes are an excellent alternative source of protein, with no saturated fats.
Finally, use liquid vegetable oil in food cooking and preparation, but not tropical oils.
For assisted living and group home facilities, the Grove Menus system can help you improve the quality and nutrition of your recipes and food menus, and help you cut costs at the same time. Our proprietary system is in use all across the United States, helping nursing homes create fresh, appetizing and heart-healthy foods that their residents love.
Contact us today to learn more about how you can save money while improving your nursing home menus.