How Do Sugar and Fat Affect Heart Health?

By Pete Lane, 9:00 am on

Unhealthy dietary practices are responsible for millions of heart-related illnesses, including congestive heart failure and coronary artery disease. Seniors and their caregivers should understand how fat and sugar affect heart health and what can be done about it. In many cases, seniors can drastically reduce their risk of heart disease with a few simple dietary changes. 

Maintaining a high quality of life can be challenging for some seniors, but professional caregivers can help them obtain this goal. Families can trust in Centennial, CO, elderly care experts to help their elderly loved ones focus on lifestyle choices that increase the chances of living a longer and healthier life.

The History of the Sugar Association

For many years, scientists believed fatty foods were responsible for heart disease, heart attacks, strokes, and many other cardiovascular disorders. While fat does play a small role in heart health, researchers now claim refined sugar could be one of the biggest factors. In 1967, an organization known as the Sugar Association began funding experiments that claimed fat was much worse for the heart than sugar. Those studies resulted in years of misinformation being spread throughout the world. Researchers now know that sugar-laden foods can increase the risk of diabetes, cardiac arrest, high blood pressure, obesity, gum disease, tooth decay, and chronic inflammation. 

The Truth About Fat

Fat is one of the three primary macronutrients people need to survive, but not all fats are the same. Saturated fats are found in foods such as dairy products and fried meats, and they increase LDL cholesterol levels when consumed regularly. LDL cholesterol has been attributed to many different heart conditions and ailments, including strokes and heart disease. Most of the fats seniors eat should be unsaturated fats, which can be found in foods like salmon, avocados, olive oil, peanut butter, and almonds.

How Much Is Too Much?

The amount of sugar and fat seniors should consume each day is determined by age, weight, sex, and level of physical activity. According to the American Heart Association, healthy males should have no more than nine teaspoons of sugar a day, while healthy females should have no more than six teaspoons a day. This organization also states that saturated fats should be no more than five or six percent of a person’s daily caloric intake. Unsaturated fats, on the other hand, can be consumed in much larger quantities as long as the rest of the calories come from lean protein sources and complex carbohydrates. 

Other Risk Factors

Dietary habits are just one of the many things seniors must take into consideration when focusing on heart health. Seniors over the age of 65 should have a comprehensive health examination at least twice a year to test their cholesterol levels and blood pressure. These tests can help determine other lifestyle changes they need to make such as spending more time exercising or quitting tobacco products. Seniors with chronic stress and anxiety should speak with their doctors about controlling those emotions. When left untreated, stress and anger can increase the risk of high blood pressure.

To successfully age in place, some seniors require the help of professional caregivers. In Centennial, families rely on Home Care Assistance to provide caregivers who are expertly trained in various aspects of senior home care, including our holistic Balanced Care Method, an evidence-based program focused on healthy eating, regular exercise, mental and social stimulation, and calmness and purpose.

If your senior loved one needs respite care, Centennial, CO, Home Care Assistance is here to help. Our part-time caregivers are trained to assist older adults with a wide variety of everyday tasks, including meal prep, physical activity, and personal hygiene. We also provide 24-hour care and specialized care for seniors with Alzheimer’s, dementia, and Parkinson’s. Call 303.957.3100 to speak with a friendly Care Manager to find out about our flexible care plans.