Foods That Might Help Lower Blood Pressure

Foods That Might Help Lower Blood Pressure

The topic of high blood pressure seems to be surrounding me a lot lately from dealing with my dad’s uncontrolled blood pressure, who has already experienced a stroke, a discussion with a patient this week wondering if there are foods to help lower blood pressure and preventing my own blood pressure troubles as my age is increasing (as I watch my age number increase so does the blood pressure number!).   Uncontrolled high blood pressure can increase the risk of heart disease and stroke. It is important to get control of it sooner than later. We know a healthy lifestyle, such as eating healthy foods; regular exercise and stress management all play a role in preventing and controlling high blood pressure.

A lower sodium diet is helpful, especially limiting to avoiding processed foods and restaurant foods and if you do choose a processed food use 140mg of sodium per serving or less as a guide for low sodium choices.   Foods rich in calcium, potassium, magnesium, soy protein and omega-3 fatty acid could also improve blood pressure numbers. Here are some recommended foods rich in the nutrients mentioned:

Calcium: Almonds, greens, milk, calcium-fortified plant milk, fat-free yogurt,

Potassium: Swiss chard, yellowfin tuna, acorn squash, sweet potatoes, edamame, cooked spinach, bananas, fat-free yogurt, OJ, dried apricots, baked potatoes with skin, beans, cantaloupes, low-sodium V8 juice

Magnesium: Brown rice, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, flaxseeds, Brazil nuts, cashews, dark chocolate, spinach, Swiss chard, lentils, whole grain bread

Soy protein: Edamame, soy milk, tofu, unsalted soy nuts, calcium-fortifed tofu

Omega-3s: Fatty fish (salmon, tuna, halibut, mackerel), walnuts, soybeans, flaxseeds, chia seeds

Eating healthy and regular exercise is key, but so is controlling stress. Find time to meditate, just 10 minutes daily and quiet the mind, practice yoga, listen to soothing music etc.

Your body is a car

You may not be an Olympic athlete but having a well-balanced diet will help improve your overall health and fitness levels. Think of your body as an engine that runs on synthetic oil. Of course the engine can take regular oil (processed foods) but it does not perform the same. It becomes slower and burns gas faster. It’s the same with our bodies. If you aren’t properly fueling your body, you can’t train hard and you always feel tired.

Make sure to fill your diet with a variety of whole foods and be sure to get enough protein, healthy fats, and vitamins. Eat clean and train dirty!

Pickleball Pals

“Pickleball” may have a name that sounds more suited to playground, but it is considered one of the fastest-growing sports in the United States. Pickleball is a paddle sport that combines elements of tennis, badminton, and ping-pong using a paddle and plastic ball with holes, similar to a waffle ball.

Pickleball fever is still rampant across the country for people of all ages. It is especially popular with the retired population, since it is low impact and on a smaller court, yet still energetic and fun. While new courts seem to pop up everyday (usually over old tennis courts), pickleball court space is coveted every winter in the South by “snowbirds” like rare gold. Don’t let the fact that it is popular with people of age make you think the game isn’t competitive. While the game is easy to learn, it inspires the competitive spirit. As said by avid player Cheryl Lutz “There is no sorry in Pickleball!”

Want to check it out? Chances our there is a group near you! It is the perfect way to exercise with a group as well. Grab a friend or come alone and come out and play. Check out the Places 2 Play section at https://www.usapa.org/what-is-pickleball/ and play today!

Let's Eat Together!

There is a buzz-phrase that has been circling the internet; “What you eat in private, you wear in public.” This rings especially true for many of those who have tried diet after diet only to remain stagnant. Or they lose the weight only to gain it back because the underlying causes and lifestyle choices have not been addressed.

Everyone needs to eat. Some of us eat too much, and some of us not enough. What matters most is what we eat. It’s easy to grab those quick meals, but generally speaking the nutritional value of fast food is not what our bodies need to run efficiently. There needs to be an even exchange of calorie intake to calories burned (or more or less depending on your body image goals), and an emphasis on key nutrients. You may feel full, but your body is confused and starving. We all need to eat, so let’s be mindful of what we put in the fuel tank.

When we eat in a social setting, everything can shift. It allows us to take the time to slow down and enjoy ourselves. A good bit of wisdom from writer Michael Pollan is to, “spend as much time enjoying the meal as it took to prepare it.” Rushing a meal can lead to stress, poor digestion, and overeating. In a busy would, it can be difficult to get everyone to the dinner table at the same time for a conversation as simple as talking about each other’s day. Conversations are what allow us to connect to people and create a sense of community. What better time to do that than while having a meal? We all have to eat right? Good things should be shared.

Eating with others can also motivate us to make better choices about what we eat ourselves and when we eat it. A sit-down meal is a great way to create a connection between healthy foods and good times. Be the role model for your friends and family and create dishes that nourish the body and soul. Developing a regular mealtime schedule with others helps to create a routine in our day and can control snacking. It helps prevent spontaneous emotional eating, keeps our blood sugar balanced, aids in digestion, and curbs overeating - not only for the need to leave some for others, but because someone else is watching and holding us accountable. Scheduled meals will also help your loved ones for the same reasons. Make their and your health a priority. Make it a challenge to eat with others as often as you can. Set aside the time, it’s worth it.

Healthier Graduation Party Tips

How many graduation parties are you invited to this year? I count four, including the one I am giving for my daughter-my baby-I still can’t believe it. Graduation parties typically don’t have the healthiest food choices and the calories can add up quickly, but you can make better choices.

  • Eat something prior to the party to control appetite
  • Limit alcoholic beverages-choose water or carbonated water w/ fruit or diet soda instead
  • Fill half your plate with fruit and vegetables
  • Eat slowly
  • Use the small plate and only choose the foods you absolutely love and leave the rest

Of course, if you are giving the party, you can serve healthier choices! My daughter, who is vegan, has requested only vegan foods be served. I have found some tasty recipes like vegan lentil meatballs for meatball subs in whole grain buns and marinated grilled carrots to serve in whole grain hot dog buns instead of hot dogs!

Happy, healthy partying!