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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 January 14, 2019

7 Ways To Make Exercise Fun For Everyone

7 Ways To Make Exercise Fun For Everyone

From Atkins to Paleo to eating gluten-free despite not being one of the rare few people afflicted with celiac disease, fad diets are everywhere. It drives me crazy because I believe these diets do more harm than good. Your body is made up of a variety of vitamins, nutrients, and minerals, and losing weight healthily isn’t possible when you fill your body with unnecessary synthetic plastics, sugars, and powders. There’s no easy button in life.

What you need to do is exercise, which isn’t very appealing to many people. Workouts take work, so there’s already a stigma involved in going to the gym. Starting a healthy workout regimen becomes easier when you make it fun. If you want to live long and prosper, get off the couch and try these methods to turn your workout into a playout.

1. Take the scenic route.

Walking is an easy way to transition to a healthy lifestyle, and it’s free. Not only do you burn calories (check out this calculator for how many calories you burn based on your weight), but you see the world in a different way. Hiking in nature is great if you have access to it, but don’t let living in an urban area deter you from walking.

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Whenever I’m creatively stuck I get my head straight by walking a couple of miles. It’s also how I discover new paths, meet new people, and stumble upon hole-in-the-wall spots I never would have found otherwise. You could drive past the same place every day and never appreciate the beauty, nor even notice it’s there.

2. Distract yourself.

No matter what exercise routine you choose, use the time to meditate. You may wonder how marathon runners are able to put so many miles on their bodies. It’s because the pain from running that you avoid is something they’ve learned to harness to enter a transcendental state. If you’re aware of the benefits of meditation and exercise but don’t have time to do both, you can combine them, killing two birds with one healthy stone.

3. Listen to music or podcasts.

There are few experiences in life more pleasurable than turning up the music and drowning out the world around you. With so many podcasts and music apps available on your smartphone, you can easily find entertainment options perfectly suited to your personal tastes. Never worry what people may think of you when working out;instead, crank up the volume and get lost in your own world. You’ll be in shape before you know it.

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4. Bring a friend.

Some people can’t go anywhere alone. While I highly recommend dining out and seeing a movie in a theater alone, having company while exercising is very helpful. It allows you to pace yourself with someone else, and gives you a coach to motivate and push harder than you may have on your own.

Many exercises are safer when done with a friend, and some sports can only be played with another person. Involving others in your goals can mean the difference between success and failure. Just remember to continue exercising if the other person flakes, or they’ll be in control of your health.

5. Accessorize.

There are accessories that can make exercise easier, and sometimes buying a new toy can add some much-needed fun to your routine. With apps like RunKeeper and Nike+, your smartphone is capable of tracking your vitals and progress. Wrist weights can add a new dimension to your workout, and, if you exercise at night, a headlamp can help you see what’s in front of you so you don’t trip.

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For urban runners and power-walkers, one of the biggest obstacles is other people. It’s difficult to get in your meditative zone and enjoy your music when you constantly have to dodge people. To resolve this vexing issue, Runbell, a startup in Tokyo, has developed the runner’s version of the bicycle bell. With this lightweight brass bell warning people you’re approaching from behind, you’re free to maintain your transcendental state while continuing your workout. Head to their Kickstarter campaign to pledge your support.

6. Compete.

A little healthy competition can motivate you to push yourself further in your workout regimen. There are apps like Zombies, Run! which turns your run into a video game, and MyFitnessPal which allows you to connect with others in the exercise community. Whether you’re directly competing with a friend, an online community, or against your previous self, setting goals is the key to reaching them. Running with no destination can feel like an impossible task, and it’s easy to get distracted.

7. Relax.

The best part about exercising is how much you enjoy the downtime. If you think laying on your couch all day is enjoyable, it has nothing on that hour you spend as a couch potato after a rigorous workout. Jay-Z said it best, “in order to experience joy, you need pain.” The harder you push yourself while exercising, the better you’ll feel when you’re relaxing.

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With that said, don’t relax too much, or it loses the effect. It’s okay to indulge every so often. Treat yourself to some junk food you’re craving, imbibe a drink here and there, and spend a day vegging out on your couch. Staying healthy doesn’t have to be torture. Just turn down when you can and dedicate some time to better the health of your body. You only get one.

Featured photo credit: tpsdave via pixabay.com

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