Managing a hospital food service operation can be a tricky thing. While you certainly want to provide high-quality meals that are delicious for patients to enjoy, you also need to keep in mind the various health concerns and nutritional requirements surrounding these individuals. After all, your hospital menu will likely need to account for people living with a range of digestive, cardiovascular, musculoskeletal and mental health conditions, all of whom may need access to certain meal choices over others. As a healthcare food service director, it falls on you to provide options that are both healthy and tasty.
As heart disease and cardiovascular health issues are among the most common medical conditions in the U.S., there’s a good chance that you’ll be catering to patients diagnosed with heart disease, high blood pressure, heart arrhythmias and other cardiac issues on a regular basis. To uphold a certain standard of patient satisfaction without causing any taste bud implosions, consider highlight the following heart-healthy meal options in your establishment.
When it comes to enjoying a healthy snack that’s kind on the old ticker, you can’t go wrong with a handful of delicious almonds. Not only are nuts a great way to satisfy hunger cravings in between meals without resorting to greasy, fatty junk food options, but they’re also loaded with nutritional value. Almonds are especially beneficial for maintaining the cardiovascular system.
The reason that almonds are so good for the heart and blood circulation is that they are packed with zinc, magnesium, vitamin B2 and vitamin E, all of which have been shown to boost cardiovascular health. In fact, the combination of zinc and vitamin E can also prevent the damaging effects of oxidative stress, one of the main contributing factors in heart disease.
Breakfast is one of the most important meals of the day, as it provides patients with the energy and nutrition their bodies need to stay strong and recover while in the hospital. Furthermore, eating breakfast on a regular basis has been linked to improved metabolic rates and weight management. Promoting oatmeal a staple of your hospital cafeteria menu can help take these existing benefits of breakfast to a whole new level to enhance employee and community health.
A single bowl of oatmeal is jam-packed with nutrients that are ideal for protecting the heart. For example, this breakfast favorite contains substances such as potassium, folate and omega-3 fatty acids – all of which can keep the cardiovascular system strong. That’s not to mention how important dietary fiber found in oatmeal is for digestive and cardiovascular health. Fiber is essential for bowel movements as well as keeping bad cholesterol levels at a minimum, which can prevent plaque buildup in the arteries.
Oatmeal isn’t the only food packed with omega-3 fatty acids, as salmon also offers patients a heaping dose of these vital nutrients. For starters, fish is a great substitute for cardiac patients who love meat but need to get away from foods like steak, meatballs and sausage. This is due in part to the lower fat content of salmon and other fish as compared to red meat. In fact, a salmon burger can be a great way to replace cheeseburgers and hamburgers on the hospital menus.
The real strength of omega-3 fatty acids found in salmon is that they can work to reduce high blood pressure, prevent blood clots and keep blood circulation functioning normally. Of course, salmon isn’t the sole fish for incorporating omega-3s into patients’ diets, as you can also find these nutrients in other cold-water fish like tuna and mackerel.