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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

More by this author

Anthony Dejolde

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

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Last Updated on September 16, 2019

How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators

How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators

You have a deadline looming. However, instead of doing your work, you are fiddling with miscellaneous things like checking email, social media, watching videos, surfing blogs and forums. You know you should be working, but you just don’t feel like doing anything.

We are all familiar with the procrastination phenomenon. When we procrastinate, we squander away our free time and put off important tasks we should be doing them till it’s too late. And when it is indeed too late, we panic and wish we got started earlier.

The chronic procrastinators I know have spent years of their life looped in this cycle. Delaying, putting off things, slacking, hiding from work, facing work only when it’s unavoidable, then repeating this loop all over again. It’s a bad habit that eats us away and prevents us from achieving greater results in life.

Don’t let procrastination take over your life. Here, I will share my personal steps on how to stop procrastinating. These 11 steps will definitely apply to you too:

1. Break Your Work into Little Steps

Part of the reason why we procrastinate is because subconsciously, we find the work too overwhelming for us. Break it down into little parts, then focus on one part at the time. If you still procrastinate on the task after breaking it down, then break it down even further. Soon, your task will be so simple that you will be thinking “gee, this is so simple that I might as well just do it now!”.

For example, I’m currently writing a new book (on How to achieve anything in life). Book writing at its full scale is an enormous project and can be overwhelming. However, when I break it down into phases such as –

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  • (1) Research
  • (2) Deciding the topic
  • (3) Creating the outline
  • (4) Drafting the content
  • (5) Writing Chapters #1 to #10,
  • (6) Revision
  • (7) etc.

Suddenly it seems very manageable. What I do then is to focus on the immediate phase and get it done to my best ability, without thinking about the other phases. When it’s done, I move on to the next.

2. Change Your Environment

Different environments have different impact on our productivity. Look at your work desk and your room. Do they make you want to work or do they make you want to snuggle and sleep? If it’s the latter, you should look into changing your workspace.

One thing to note is that an environment that makes us feel inspired before may lose its effect after a period of time. If that’s the case, then it’s time to change things around. Refer to Steps #2 and #3 of 13 Strategies To Jumpstart Your Productivity, which talks about revamping your environment and workspace.

3. Create a Detailed Timeline with Specific Deadlines

Having just 1 deadline for your work is like an invitation to procrastinate. That’s because we get the impression that we have time and keep pushing everything back, until it’s too late.

Break down your project (see tip #1), then create an overall timeline with specific deadlines for each small task. This way, you know you have to finish each task by a certain date. Your timelines must be robust, too – i.e. if you don’t finish this by today, it’s going to jeopardize everything else you have planned after that. This way it creates the urgency to act.

My goals are broken down into monthly, weekly, right down to the daily task lists, and the list is a call to action that I must accomplish this by the specified date, else my goals will be put off.

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Here’re more tips on setting deadlines: 22 Tips for Effective Deadlines

4. Eliminate Your Procrastination Pit-Stops

If you are procrastinating a little too much, maybe that’s because you make it easy to procrastinate.

Identify your browser bookmarks that take up a lot of your time and shift them into a separate folder that is less accessible. Disable the automatic notification option in your email client. Get rid of the distractions around you.

I know some people will out of the way and delete or deactivate their facebook accounts. I think it’s a little drastic and extreme as addressing procrastination is more about being conscious of our actions than counteracting via self-binding methods, but if you feel that’s what’s needed, go for it.

5. Hang out with People Who Inspire You to Take Action

I’m pretty sure if you spend just 10 minutes talking to Steve Jobs or Bill Gates, you’ll be more inspired to act than if you spent the 10 minutes doing nothing. The people we are with influence our behaviors. Of course spending time with Steve Jobs or Bill Gates every day is probably not a feasible method, but the principle applies — The Hidden Power of Every Single Person Around You

Identify the people, friends or colleagues who trigger you – most likely the go-getters and hard workers – and hang out with them more often. Soon you will inculcate their drive and spirit too.

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As a personal development blogger, I “hang out” with inspiring personal development experts by reading their blogs and corresponding with them regularly via email and social media. It’s communication via new media and it works all the same.

6. Get a Buddy

Having a companion makes the whole process much more fun. Ideally, your buddy should be someone who has his/her own set of goals. Both of you will hold each other accountable to your goals and plans. While it’s not necessary for both of you to have the same goals, it’ll be even better if that’s the case, so you can learn from each other.

I have a good friend whom I talk to regularly, and we always ask each other about our goals and progress in achieving those goals. Needless to say, it spurs us to keep taking action.

7. Tell Others About Your Goals

This serves the same function as #6, on a larger scale. Tell all your friends, colleagues, acquaintances and family about your projects. Now whenever you see them, they are bound to ask you about your status on those projects.

For example, sometimes I announce my projects on The Personal Excellence Blog, Twitter and Facebook, and my readers will ask me about them on an ongoing basis. It’s a great way to keep myself accountable to my plans.

8. Seek out Someone Who Has Already Achieved the Outcome

What is it you want to accomplish here, and who are the people who have accomplished this already? Go seek them out and connect with them. Seeing living proof that your goals are very well achievable if you take action is one of the best triggers for action.

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9. Re-Clarify Your Goals

If you have been procrastinating for an extended period of time, it might reflect a misalignment between what you want and what you are currently doing. Often times, we outgrow our goals as we discover more about ourselves, but we don’t change our goals to reflect that.

Get away from your work (a short vacation will be good, else just a weekend break or staycation will do too) and take some time to regroup yourself. What exactly do you want to achieve? What should you do to get there? What are the steps to take? Does your current work align with that? If not, what can you do about it?

10. Stop Over-Complicating Things

Are you waiting for a perfect time to do this? That maybe now is not the best time because of X, Y, Z reasons? Ditch that thought because there’s never a perfect time. If you keep waiting for one, you are never going to accomplish anything.

Perfectionism is one of the biggest reasons for procrastination. Read more about why perfectionist tendencies can be a bane than a boon: Why Being A Perfectionist May Not Be So Perfect.

11. Get a Grip and Just Do It

At the end, it boils down to taking action. You can do all the strategizing, planning and hypothesizing, but if you don’t take action, nothing’s going to happen. Occasionally, I get readers and clients who keep complaining about their situations but they still refuse to take action at the end of the day.

Reality check:

I have never heard anyone procrastinate their way to success before and I doubt it’s going to change in the near future.  Whatever it is you are procrastinating on, if you want to get it done, you need to get a grip on yourself and do it.

More About Procrastination

Featured photo credit: Malvestida Magazine via unsplash.com

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