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How Adding Variety To Your Diet Can Help Lower Blood Pressure

How Adding Variety To Your Diet Can Help Lower Blood Pressure

Are you scared you might have some blood pressure concerns? Here’s good news! Science has come up with a special diet that is designed to help prevent or even treat high blood pressure. Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) is an effective way to maintain healthy blood pressure. Why is it recommended? It’s backed by science and simple. Just veer away from too much sodium and consume a variety of potassium, calcium, and magnesium-rich foods that lower blood pressure.

Why should you care about blood pressure level when if you’re young?

Your circulatory system and overall health will benefit from maintaining a healthy blood pressure. It’s important to understand that as you grow older, your blood pressure will naturally rise. This causes your heart to work harder pumping nutrient and oxygen-rich blood to your whole body. Blood flows through arteries as it goes to different parts of the body. As you age, your arteries become less elastic. When they’re stiff, heart muscles become thicker and grow weaker; pumping blood will be too hard for them. This may damage arteries and cause not enough blood to get to your organs. When this happens, organs will malfunction, then they’ll be damaged. A damaged brain may cause a stroke, a damaged heart may cause a heart attack, and damaged kidneys may lead to kidney failure.

By following a DASH diet, you can help maintain a healthy blood pressure. Here are eight ways to follow the DASH diet easily.

1. Vegetables (4 to 5 servings per day)

Veggies are full of vitamins, fiber, and minerals such as potassium and magnesium. It’s highly recommended to consume broccoli, carrots, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, greens and other veggies daily to maximize DASH.

One serving may include: a.1 cup raw leafy green vegetables b. 1/2 cup cut-up raw or cooked vegetables.

Chow tips:

a. Treat veggies as main dishes and not just side dishes. A big serving of mix vegetables served with brown rice or whole-wheat noodles can serve as the main dish for a meal.

b. Fresh or frozen vegetables — it doesn’t matter. Both are good choices.

c. Be wise; buy frozen and canned vegetables that are labeled as low sodium or no salt added. You can be creative. Here’s a tip on how you can add up more servings to your daily serving. For example, in a stir-fry, you can minimize the amount of meat (put in just a third and increase the amount of vegetables by 50%.

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2. Fruits (4 to 5 servings per day)

A lot of fruits need a little time to prepare to be a part of a healthy meal. They’re full of fiber, potassium, and magnesium, and contain low fat — except for coconuts.

One serving can include one medium fruit, 1/2 cup fresh, frozen or canned fruit, or 4 ounces of juice.

Chow tips:

a. Spice up your meals with a piece of fruit. You can take another as a snack. Fill up your day with fresh fruits as dessert. Add up a dollop of low-fat yogurt to complete your dessert.

b. Make it a point whenever appropriate to leave on edible peels. The peels of pears, apples and many fruits with pits add up texture to recipes and most contain healthy fiber and nutrients.

c. Some medications may interact with grape juice and other juices, and many citrus fruits, so it’s wise to consult your doctor about this.

3. Grains (6 to 8 servings per day)

Cereal, bread, pasta, and rice — all of these are grains. One serving may include 1/2 cup cooked cereal, rice, or pasta, 1 slice whole-wheat bread, or 1 ounce dry cereal.

Chow tips:

a. Focus on whole grains; they have more fiber and nutrients compared to refined grains. For example, choose brown rice over white rice, whole-wheat pasta over regular pasta, and whole-grain bread over white bread. Choose products labeled “100 percent whole grain” or “100 percent whole wheat.”

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b. Naturally, grains are low in fat content. Keep them that way by not adding butter, cream or cheese sauces.

4. Fish, Poultry, and Lean Meat (6 servings or fewer per day)

Meat is a rich source of B vitamins, iron, zinc, and protein. Pick a variety of lean meat and target no more than 6 ounces per day. Minimizing your meat intake will make room for more veggies.

Chow Tips:

a.Take away fat and skin from poultry and meat and instead of frying, bake, broil, grill, or roast. This will minimize fat from your diet.

b. Also, eat meals with heart-healthy fish like herring, salmon, or tuna. These are fish that are high in omega-3 fatty acids. They can lower your total cholesterol levels.

5. Dairy (2 to 3 servings per day)

Cheese, milk, yogurt, and other dairy products are good sources of calcium, vitamin D, and protein. However, the key is to make sure you pick products that are low fat or fat-free, for the simple reason that they can fill you up with mostly saturated fat. One serving may include 1 percent milk or 1 cup skim, 1 cup yogurt (low fat), or 1 & 1/2 ounces cheese (part-skim).

Chow Tips:

a. Low-fat/fat-free frozen yogurt may help you boost the amount of dairy products you take in and you can enjoy a sweet treat after meals. You may add a piece of fruit for variety.

b. If, like me, you have a problem digesting dairy products, pick lactose-free products or you can try taking an over-the-counter product that contains lactase which can reduce or help prevent lactose intolerance.

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c. Go easy on regular and even fat-free cheeses. They typically contain high levels of sodium.

6. Fats and oils (2 to 3 servings per day)

Fat assists the body to absorb essential vitamins and helps the immune system. However, too much fat heightens the risk of heart disease, diabetes, and obesity. The DASH diet aims for a balance by limiting body fat content to a total of less than 30% of daily calories from fat, focusing on healthier fats that are monounsaturated.

One serving may include 1 teaspoon soft margarine, 1 tablespoon mayonnaise or 2 tablespoons salad dressing.

Chow Tips:

a. Avoid saturated fat and trans fat. They’re the main dietary culprits in increasing your body’s risk of having coronary artery disease. DASH assists in keeping your daily saturated fat to less than 6% of your total calories by limiting portions of meat, butter, cheese, whole milk, cream, and eggs in your diet. It also limits foods made from lard, solid shortenings, palm, and coconut oils.

b. Stay away from trans fat, commonly found in such processed foods like crackers, baked goods. and fried items.

c. make sure to read food labels of margarine and salad dressing. This way, you can pick those that have the lowest levels of saturated fat and those that are free of trans fat.

7. Nuts, seeds and legumes (4 to 5 servings a week)

Almonds, kidney beans, sunflower seeds, lentils, peas, and other foods in this family are great sources of magnesium, protein, and potassium. They’re also packed with fiber and phytochemicals: plant compounds that may protect against some cancers and cardiovascular disease.

Suggested serving portions are small and are to be consumed only a few times every week due to the fact that these foods have high calories. One serving may include 2 tablespoons seeds, 1/3 cup nuts, or 1/2 cup cooked beans or peas.

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Chow Tips:

a. Nuts at times solicit negative talk because of their fat content. However, they contain fats that are healthy; these are monounsaturated fat and omega-3 fatty acids. They may be high in calories, so you must take them in moderation. You can throw them into stir-fries, salads, or cereals.

b. Soybean-based products, like tofu and tempeh may be a good meat substitute because they contain amino acids that your body needs to make a complete protein, just like meat.

8. Sweets (5 servings or fewer every week)

You don’t have to delete sweets entirely from your world while following the DASH diet, just take them in moderation. One serving may include 1 tablespoon jelly, jam, or sugar, 1/2 cup sorbet, or 1 cup lemonade.

Chow Tips:

a. When eating sweets, choose the ones that are fat-free or low-fat, like sorbets, fruit ices, jelly beans, hard candy, graham crackers, or low-fat cookies.

b.Use artificial sweeteners such as aspartame (NutraSweet, Equal) and sucralose (Splenda) sensibly even if they can help spare sugar. It’s fine to swap a diet cola for a regular cola, but remember it’s still better to down nutritious beverage like low-fat milk or better yet, plain water.

c. Reduce your intake of added sugar. They don’t have nutritional value and contain more calories.

Featured photo credit: stevepb via pixabay.com

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Anthony Dejolde

TV/Radio personality who educates his audience on entrepreneurship, productivity, and leadership.

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Last Updated on November 11, 2019

How to Improve Memory and Boost Your Brainpower

How to Improve Memory and Boost Your Brainpower

Have you ever noticed that some people are able to effortlessly remember even the most mundane details and quickly comprehend new things? Well, you can too!

To unlock the full potential of your brain, you need to keep it active and acute. Wasting time on your couch watching mindless television shows or scrolling through facebook is not going to help.

Besides getting out flashcards, what can you do to help remember things better and learn new things more quickly? Check out these 10 effective ways on how to improve memory:

1. Exercise and Get Your Body Moving

Exercising doesn’t just exercise the body, it also helps to exercise your brain. Obesity and the myriad of diseases that eventually set in as a result of being overweight can cause serious harm to the brain.

Furthermore, without regular exercise, plaque starts to build up in your arteries, and your blood vessels begin to lose the ability to effectively pump blood. Plaque buildup leads to heart attacks and it also reduces the amount of oxygen and nutrients that your blood carries to your brain. When the nutrients don’t make it there, the brain’s ability to function is compromised.

To prevent this from happening, make sure you get moving every day. Even if it’s just a brisk walk, it’ll help you maintain and increase your mental acuity. Brisk walking, swimming and dancing are all excellent activities. Take a look at these 5 Ways to Find Time for Exercise.

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2. Eliminate Stressors and Seek Help If You’re Depressed

Anything that causes you major stress, like anger or anxiety, will in time begin to eat away the parts of your brain that are responsible for memory. Amongst the most brain-damaging stressors is depression, which is actually often misdiagnosed a a memory problem since one of its primary symptoms is the inability to concentrate.

If you can’t concentrate, then you might feel like you are constantly forgetting things. Depression increases the levels of cortisol in your bloodstream which elevates the cortisol levels in the brain. Doctors have found that increased cortisol diminishes certain areas of the brain, especially the hippocampus which is where short-term memories are stored.

Prolonged depression can thus destroy your brain’s ability to remember anything new. Seek professional help to combat your depression – your brain will thank you.

3. Get a Good Night’s Sleep and Take Naps

Getting a consistent 7 to 8 hours of sleep each night will increase your memory. During sleep, the brain firms up memories of recently acquired information.

Getting enough sleep will help you get through the full spectrum of nocturnal cycles that are essential to optimal brain and body functioning during the waking hours. Taking a nap throughout the day, especially after learning something new, can also help you to retain those memories as well as recharge your brain and keep it sharper longer.

4. Feed Your Brain

Fifty to sixty percent of the brain’s overall weight is pure fat, which is used to insulate its billions of nerve cells. The better insulated a cell is, the faster it can send messages and the quicker you will be thinking.

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This is precisely why parents are advised to feed their young children whole milk and to restrict dieting – their brains’ need fat to grow and work properly. Skimping on fats can be devastating even to the adult brain.

Thus, eating foods that contain a healthy mix of fats is vital for long-term memory. Some excellent food choices include fish (especially anchovies, mackerel and wild salmon) and dark leafy green vegetables. Here’re more brain food choices: 12 Foods that Can Improve Your Brain Power

Deep-fried foods obviously contain fat but their lack of nutritional value is not going to help your brain or your body, so think healthy foods and fats.

5. Eat Breakfast and Make Sure It Includes an Egg

According to Larry McCleary, M.D., author of  The Brain Trust Program, an egg is the ideal breakfast. Eggs contain B vitamins which help nerve cells to burn glucose, antioxidants that protect neurons against damage; and omega-3 fatty acids that keep nerve cells firing at optimal speed.

Other foods to add to your breakfast include fruits, veggies and lean proteins. Avoid trans fats and high fructose corn syrup. Trans fats diminish the brain cells’ ability to communicate with each other and HFCS can actually shrink the brain by damaging cells.

Having a healthy breakfast in the morning has been shown to improve performance throughout the day. If you’re too busy to have a healthy breakfast, this maybe just right for you: 33 Quick And Healthy Breakfasts For Busy Mornings

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6. Write it Down

If there’s something you want to remember, writing it down can help.

It may sound like a no-brainer, but do you really know why? Writing it down creates oxygenated blood flow to areas of your brain that a responsible for your memories and literally exercises those parts of it. Here’s How Writing Things Down Can Change Your Life.

You can start a journal, write yourself emails or even start keeping a blog – all of these activities will help to improve your capacity to remember and memorize information.

7. Listen to Music

Research shows that certain types of music are very helpful in recalling memories. Information that is learned while listening to a particular song or collection can often be recalled by thinking of the song or “playing” it mentally. Songs and music can serve as cues for pulling up particular memories.

8. Visual Concepts

In order to remember things, many people need to visualize the information they are studying.

Pay attention to photographers, charts and other graphics that might appear in your textbook; or if you’re not studying a book, try to pull up a mental image of what it is you are trying to remember. It might also help to draw your own charts or figures, or utilize colors and highlighters to group related ideas in your notes.

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Here, you can learn How to Become a Person Who Can Visualize Results.

9. Teach Someone Else

Reading material out loud has been shown to significantly improve memory of the material. Expanding further upon this idea is the fact that psychologists and educators have found that by having students teach new concepts to others, it helps to enhance understanding and recall.

Teach new concepts and information to a friend or study partner, and you’ll find you remember the information a lot better.

10. Do Crossword Puzzles, Read or Play Cards

Studies have shown that doing crossword puzzles, read or play cards on a daily basis not only keep your brain active but also help to delay memory loss, especially in those who develop dementia.

So pick up the daily newspaper and work on that crossword puzzle, read a book or enjoy a game of solitaire.

Pick one to two of these tips first and start applying them to your everyday life. Very soon you’ll find yourself having better memories and a clearer head!

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Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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