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Studies highlight which foods are best for the heart

May 7, 2014

An apple a day keeps the doctor away, but just how far-reaching are its effects? According to a recent study, this fruit may be key to staving off heart disease and boosting brain power - both of which are essential factors when maintaining a healthy lifestyle for seniors.

In addition to an ample amount of apples, there are several other foods seniors should veer toward when choosing their next meals. 

Processed foods may have negative impacts
Foods rich in phosphates, such as certain cheeses and soda, can increase one's risk for having heart disease. News Medical reported that foods containing this ingredient - typically found in processed items - may stimulate the production of one hormone that can wreak havoc on the heart, blood pressure and kidneys. However, seniors need only worry about this impact if they're consuming these products in bulk, so as long as people are eating these foods in moderation, there should be no immediate health threat. 

Fruits, veggies and fresh foods improve heart, cognitive health
While seniors should shy away from large amounts of sodas and phosphate-rich foods, opting for nutritious offerings, such as fruits and vegetables, may not only protect the heart from disease, but also strengthen the body as a whole. 

Spinach and apples, for example, are two of the healthiest options for seniors, according to a study conducted by researchers from the University of Western Australia. Researchers found that these two foods were replete with nutrients essential for heart health, including flavonoids and nitrates. Specifically, those two components were capable of elevating the body's nitric oxide levels, which were key for increasing mood, cardiovascular and cognitive health.

Scientists tested the effect that apples and spinach may have on their own, then examined how individuals reacted when consuming both products. They found that people who ate high amounts of both apples and spinach had the greatest levels of nitric oxide, and therefore, the greatest overall health.

Additionally, researchers have shown that a wealth of other natural products are essential for maintaining strong heart health. One study published in The Journal of Nutrition found that beetroot bread could lower one's blood pressure. Scientists provided trial participants with four slices of this bread, then examined how their systems reacted to the substance. The found that men who ate this food often were 38 percent less likely to have a stroke, and 23 percent less likely to have coronary heart disease than those who did not.