Experts Recommend Lifestyle Changes for Both the Prevention and Treatment of High Blood Pressure
As part of the effort to prevent and control hypertension, try to make the following changes:
- Reduce daily sodium intake to no more than 2.3 g. of sodium/1 tsp of salt; include more fresh foods and less processed foods in your diet.
- Include more dietary potassium in your diet - eat bananas, potatoes, prunes, winter squash, broccoli, and drink milk and orange juice.
- Reduce dietary saturated fat and cholesterol; eat a more plant-based diet.
- Lose weight if you are overweight.
- Limit alcohol intake to no more than 1 ounce alcohol or 1-2 drinks per day for men or 1/2-ounce alcohol or 1 drink per day for women.
- Increase aerobic activity to 30-45 minutes most days of the week - walk, climb stairs, run or jog.
- STOP SMOKING.
Men Need Calcium Too
Osteoporosis is not just a woman's health problem. Approximately 2 million American men have it. So, if you are a man, make sure you include enough calcium and vitamin D in your diet. This amounts to a daily calcium intake of 1,000 mg per day for younger men and 1,200 mg for men over age 50, as well as 400-600IU of vitamin D, from food or supplements.
A High-Fiber Alternative to Meat
Are you looking for an alternative to meat? Try legumes- dried peas, beans, and lentils- which are low in fat and high in fiber. When combined with rice, barley, buckwheat, bulgur, corn, millet, oats, rye, or wheat, they make a complete high quality protein.
Fun Facts About Fiber
Do you know all of the benefits of eating 25-35 grams of fiber every day? Whether eating fruits, vegetables, or whole grains, fiber can help lower blood cholesterol, regulate bowel function, increase satiety and control blood sugar levels. Look for the fiber content of foods on food labels- aim for 2 grams per serving when eating breads, cereals, and other grain products. Try switching from white rice, pasta and bread to the whole wheat varieties, and make sure to have a fruit or vegetable at every meal. Not only will fiber keep you healthy, it increases variety in your eating plan.
Flaxseeds and their oils are sources of omega-3 fatty acids which may help to lower total blood cholesterol as well as LDL cholesterol, and offer some degree of protection against heart disease. The soluble fiber in flaxseeds may also help to lower cholesterol. Flaxseeds can be a healthful addition to an overall balanced diet. Ground flaxseeds have a pleasant nutty flavor and can be sprinkled on salads, cooked vegetables and cereals. While flaxseed oil is not suitable for frying, it can be used in salad dressings and baked products.
The Benefits of Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Omega-3 fatty acids are a polyunsaturated fat found mostly in fatty fish, although they are also found in soybeans, flaxseeds and their oils, canola oil, walnuts and pumpkin seeds. These healthy fatty acids are natural blood thinners and may reduce risk of blood clots and stroke. Try to include fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids, such as tuna, salmon, sardines, bluefish and mackerel, in your diet twice a week. Since studies have not been able to establish any benefit from fish oil supplements, it is best to obtain your omega-3 fatty acids from foods.
Cut Down on Trans Fatty Acids
Trans fatty acids are created when vegetable oils are hydrogenated, changing them into a more solid fat product. Studies have shown that trans fatty acids may raise total blood cholesterol levels and increase risk of heart disease. You can reduce your intake of trans fatty acids by:
- Cutting down on all fats.
- Using olive or canola oil instead of stick margarine or shortening.
- Avoiding commercial baked goods (cakes, cookies, pastries, crackers) and any fried fast foods.
As of 2006, food labels include "trans fatty acids" in the nutrition profile. Read labels on margarine packaging; look for "no trans fat". Avoid foods containing hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated vegetable oils.
Antioxidants Occur Naturally in Food
Our bodies are constantly exposed to highly reactive, oxygen-carrying chemicals called "free radicals." These chemicals are also generated in normal metabolism and are important to our health. For example, free radicals are necessary to destroy germs. However, excessive exposure to free radicals can damage tissues and lead to many diseases, including cancer and heart disease. In some cases, we can limit our exposure to free radicals from the environment, for example, by avoiding cigarette smoke. However, it is difficult to controll all external sources of free radicals, such as those resulting from air pollution.
Substances called antioxidants, such as Β-carotene, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, and Selenium, can help curb these damaging free-radical reactions. It is thought that these nutrients have the ability to "neutralize" free radicals and other reactive chemicals in our bodies; thereby, they may help to protect body cells from damage. In general, fruits and vegetables like nuts, carrots, broccoli, oranges, and tomato products, are good sources of antioxidants.
Magnesium is a mineral essential for muscle and nerve function, as well as energy metabolism. Getting enough magnesium in your diet may help to prevent cardiac arrhythmias or high blood pressure. Alcohol abuse, diabetes, malabsorption disorders, and the use of diuretic drugs can all cause magnesium depletion. Be sure to include leafy green vegetables, nuts, seeds, whole grains, and beans in your diet as they are all good sources of magnesium.
Breakfast Fuels Your Body
Start your day off right with carbohydrates for energy and protein for sustained energy. Consider the following breakfast ideas:
- Cereal topped with low-fat yogurt or fruit
- Whole-grain toast with peanut or soy nut butter with a glass of low-fat or skim milk
- A leftover turkey and cranberry sauce sandwich
- Scrambled eggs, toast and fruit
Grapefruit Juice Can Alter Drug Action
Drinking grapefruit juice may alter the activity of certain medications. Chemical components in grapefruit juice, bioflavinoids, may cause an increase in the blood level of certain drugs. If you enjoy drinking grapefruit juice and are taking medications, be sure to check with your physician, dietitian, or pharmacist to make sure that there is not a potential drug/nutrient interaction.
Do You Know Your BMI?
Your Body Mass Index (BMI) is a formula that relates your weight to your height. BMI can be used to identify possible weight problems in adults. To calculate your BMI (for male or female adults):
- Multiply your weight in pounds by 703.
- Divide #1 by your height in inches.
- Divide #2 by your height in inches again.
A BMI for good health is between 18.5 and 24.9.
What Is a Serving?
Knowing the size of a serving can help you determine your portion sizes (the amount of a particular food that you eat at a given time).
- Three ounces of cooked meat, fish or poultry is the size of a deck of cards or cassette tape.
- Two tablespoons of peanut butter is the size of a golf ball.
- A medium piece of fruit looks like a baseball.
- A medium bagel is the size of a hockey puck.
- One ounce of cheese is the size of four dice.
- A small baked potato is the size of a computer mouse.
- The serving size for raw vegetables, yogurt, and fruit is one cup, which will fit into an average woman's hand.
The Nutrition Facts Label lists a wealth of useful information, including the number of calories a food product contains in a single serving. Here are some "must know" terms:
- "Calorie-free" means the product contains fewer than 5 calories per serving.
- "Low-calorie" means 40 calories or fewer.
- "Reduced" or "fewer" calories means 25% fewer calories.
- "Light" or "lite" indicates the product contains one-third fewer calories or 50% less fat .
Remember, just because a product is fat-free does not make it calorie-free. Read labels!
Supplements continue to appear on the market, claiming to answer all nutritional and weight control needs.
Avoid products that:
- Promote quick fixes or guarantee cures.
- Tout "all natural" aspects. Many harmful compounds are "all natural."
- Lack research to support their claims.
- Attempt to impress you by using hard to understand terminology.
- Are special deals or available for a limited time only.
- Make unrealistic claims.
Healthy Dining Out
Eating in a restaurant is often seen as a special time, a chance to indulge yourself. But you can enjoy a meal in virtually any restaurant and still keep healthful eating in mind.
Look for the following terms on the menu: baked, braised, broiled, grilled, poached, roasted, steamed, stir-fried. Ask questions:
- What are the preparation methods?
- Are baked and broiled items basted while they cook?
- Are vegetables cooked in butter or margarine?
- Can sauces or gravies be served on the side?
- May I substitute a high-fat, high-calorie item with something lower in fat and calories?
- How large are the portions?
- Ask for a "doggie-bag" to bring leftovers home.
Water Water Everywhere, but How Much Should You Drink?
An extensive review of scientific literature has been unable to find any conclusive evidence for the benefits of drinking eight 8 ounce glasses of water per day. Indeed very excessive water intake can be harmful. In normal healthy people, physiologic thirst mechanisms are able to promote an adequate fluid intake.
However, under special circumstances, additional water intake may be needed. Vigorous physical activity and increased temperatures are likely to increase fluid requirements. Elderly people may have diminished thirst perception, and therefore not drink enough to avoid dehydration. Companions and caregivers of elderly people should be aware of this risk, and encourage adequate fluid intake.
Eat Like Clockwork
Your body clock ticks with precision. Listen to your rhythm for cues about hunger. Many people find that a nutritious meal or snack every 4-5 hours leaves them feeling satisfied. By responding to your body's cues, you may be less likely to overeat and, thereby, less likely to gain weight. Excessive body weight may cause you to develop heart disease, diabetes or high blood pressure. As an additional bonus, regular eating habits may also help keep your mood even. Irregular eating patterns can deplete your energy resulting in irritability.
You May Need to Moderate Your Daily Caffeine Intake
Caffeine is a stimulant occurring naturally in certain plants and plant products, such as coffee beans, tea, cola nuts, and cocoa beans. The quality of caffeine tolerated by individuals varies widely. When consumed in excessive quantities, caffeine can cause nervousness, heart palpitations, vomiting and even convulsions. As a point of reference, an average cup of brewed coffee contains about 135 milligrams of caffeine; an average cup of brewed tea about 50 milligrams. Consumers can find out how much caffeine a commercial product contains by calling the 1-800 manufacturer's phone number listed on the product label.
Remember that other sources of caffeine besides coffee and tea include allergy treatments, weight-control aids, pain relievers, and diuretics.
If you are trying to wean yourself off of caffeine, decrease consumption slowly to avoid such symptoms as headaches, fatigue, and drowsiness. Select beverages that were decaffeinated naturally with water and simple carbonation rather than with chemicals.
What is moderate daily caffeine consumption? Approximately 2 to 4 (5 ounce) cups of brewed coffee, or 6 to 13 (5 and 8 ounce) cups respectively, of brewed or iced tea.
Prevent Salmonella Infection With Egg Safety
Eggs are a predominant source of salmonella, a bacteria that causes food borne illness. To reduce the risk of food borne illness from egg contaminated with salmonella, you should:
- Buy only refrigerated eggs. Once home, store them in their original carton in the refrigerator at a temperature of 40°F or below, and use within a month.
- Discard any cracked eggs.
- Wash hands and cooking utensils thoroughly after handling and preparing eggs.
- Cook eggs until the yolk and white are firm; cook egg dishes such as custards to a minimal internal temperature of 145°F.
- Avoid use of raw or undercooked eggs in foods such as Caesar salad, Hollandaise sauce, ice cream or egg-fortified drinks. Use pasteurized egg product, instead.
- Do not eat cake batter, raw cookie dough or homemade frosting containing raw eggs.