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Yes, May is Stroke Awareness Month, and not smoking, maintaining a lean weight, leading an active life and choosing a more plant-based diet will reduce your risk for strokes. But a study reported in the professional journal Stroke reminds us of the importance of keeping sodium intake down.
The Northern Manhattan Project examined the diets of >2600 participants for more than 10 years. And ta-da…
the higher the sodium intake, the greater the risk for having a stroke.
More study results:
Those study participants who had the highest sodium intake …
Bottom line: Cut your sodium intake to keep your blood pressure in good control and reduce your risk for having a stroke!
Kitchen tips to reduce sodium:
Every health organization in this country recommends that we eat our fruits and vegetables every day – just like our mothers used to suggest when we were growing up. In a study of over 8,000 adults, very few were eating the recommended number of servings of fruits and vegetables – and therefore, missing protective substances called phytonutrients.
Carotenoids are a large group of phytonutrients including
The carotenoids are found in colorful produce such as carrots, pumpkin, yams; tomatoes and watermelon; and spinach.
Flavonoids are phytonutrients that may provide anti-inflammatory protection, thus reducing our risk for developing heart disease and cancer. They’re found in grapes, bananas, blueberries, strawberries, orange juice, oranges, lemons, limes, apples, tea and onions.
Phenols are phytonutrients that may protect cell integrity, reducing risk for cancer. Phenols are prevalent in strawberries, raspberries, apples, walnuts, and pecans.
From this study, the folks who ate more fruits and vegetables had more physical activity in their day – so overall, they seem to be more concerned about their heath. And older adults, as well as women, were more likely to get in the suggested amounts of produce.
At the recent annual meeting of the American College of Cardiology, the best heart-healthy snacks were recommended to keep the vascular system in tip-top shape.
No. 1 Heart Healthy Snack (Top of the list): Raisins! They are high in antioxidants (to protect your arteries!), potassium (300 mg in a small box), and a good fiber source.
No. 2 Heart Healthy Snack: Soy foods. This includes soy milk (use in a fruit smoothie), soy cheese (a topper for whole-grain crackers), soy nuts, and oven-roasted edamame. Soy provides isoflavones for heart health.
No. 3 Heart Healthy Snack: Walnuts. These nuts are packed with potassium to lower blood pressure, as well as healthy monounsaturated oils. Also considered a great brain food!
No. 4 Heart Healthy Snacks: Avocados. This fruit has monounsaturated fats to lower cholesterol, and more potassium than a banana (700 mg for 1 cup of sliced avocado).
No. 5 Heart Healthy Snacks: High-fiber foods in general. This includes whole-grains such as oats (oat snack bars), multi-grain crackers and pretzels, popcorn, fruits and vegetables. Fiber can bind cholesterol in the intestinal tract, and may help with weight control.
Parents who eat out at fast food restaurants and buffets often weigh more and are more likely to develop insulin resistance (type 2 diabetes)… Not good for you, but did you know these behaviors can also be harmful for your kids? A recent study has connected many common health problems in adolescents with eating out or having meals prepared outside of the home.
When adolescents eat meals NOT prepared at home (i.e. fast food, sit-down, take out, delivery), they are much more likely to be overweight and develop insulin resistance (a precursor to type 2 diabetes). In this study, the leanest kids had more meals cooked at home with very little risk for type 2 diabetes.
Why are meals not prepared at home resulting in obesity? There are several potential culprits:
Based on this study of almost 400 adolescents, meals shouldn’t just be eaten at home – they should be PREPARED at home too. Even home delivery or take-out foods were linked to excess weight and increased risk of type 2 diabetes.
Three cheers for home-cooked meals!!! More delicious and good for you, too! Here are the simple ingredients for oven-roasted fries: olive oil and Mrs. Dash no-salt seasoning. Who needs to go out for fries?
Okay, is is Super Bowl weekend! And here are some interesting food stats….Super Bowl Sunday is the second biggest food consumption day of the year behind Thanksgiving Day! There will be 1.25 billion chicken wings and 30 million pounds of snacks and goodies eaten, and well, safe to say, thousands of calories consumed. Here are some lightened-up food ideas for Super Bowl Sunday.
For guacamole & other creamy dips - use light mayonnaise, sour cream and Greek yogurt to replace the higher fat sour cream or cream cheese. Add in calorie-free and sodium-free flavor with thinly diced green onions, garlic, herbs and spices.
Other dipping ideas - hummus, salsa, bean dip, bean & corn salsa. Now, these are best made at home from scratch because the sodium and fat content can be controlled by using healthy ingredients. And for great dippers: bell peppers and other raw veggies, whole wheat pita chunks, and baked chips.
Other munchie ideas -
Yum, yum, yum!
Here is an assembly of healthy ingredients to make your own Party Mix. Assorted high-fiber cereals, no-salt-added pretzels, plain nuts like almond slivers; toss with herbs combined with a little canola oil. Bake on baking sheet in 325-degree oven for about 30 minutes, turning with spatula. Cool completely before storing in an airtight container.
A big tip for a leaner body: Lose the meat, especially beef, veal and lamb. Yup, that’s what a 7-year study of 1,700 middle-aged men showed.
It’s the MEAT! This study found that eating more animal protein was correlated with a higher body weight. So, for a trimmer waistline, try adding some vegetarian meals to your menu.
Those men who ate the most animal protein also had higher total dietary fat … and .more saturated fat! Not good for the arteries…
On the other hand, men who eat more vegetable proteins are typically the leanest. Ideas for vegetable-based protein: dried beans & legumes, soy foods (edamame, tofu, veggie burgers), nuts, seeds and nut butters.
Easy vegetable protein meal ideas….veggie burger on multi-grain bun, bean or minestrone soup, peanut butter sandwich, vegetable-barley soup, garden vegetable pizza, lentil spinach soup, hummus stuffed in pita pocket, baked potato stuffed with broccoli and reduced-fat cheese……
This easy-to-make lentil-spinach soup uses meatless ingredients, is hearty and tasty and if you make extra, the leftovers are delicious!
High cholesterol? A recent study shows that certain foods can reduce artery-clogging LDL-cholesterol by flushing out fat and cholesterol.
Knock down your LDL-cholesterol with
The most commonly prescribed medications in this country are the statin drugs, such as Lipitor. In fact, millions of prescriptions have been written in 2011. Holy cow! For many folks, however, medications can be eliminated or reduced by simply making healthier food choices to lower cholesterol.
These high-fiber muffins have cooked two ingredients that can lower cholesterol – barley and chopped cashews:
Former President Bill Clinton has learned something about heart disease: a fatty animal-based diet can clog arteries, and in 2004 he had quadruple-heart bypass surgery. He began eating healthier, but then in 2010 he had another fatty blockage resulting in a stent. What he did after that stent is somewhat drastic – he moved to a vegan diet and lost another 25 pounds.
A vegan diet contains NO animal products at all. So where would you get your protein?
With a vegan diet, it’s especially important to make sure you’re getting enough nutrients. A few to keep an eye on…
Why join the 1% of Americans who are vegan? This eating approach may reduce your risk for heart disease and certain cancers (prostate and gastrointestinal). And with the usual weight loss that comes with a vegan diet, many folks with type 2 diabetes find improvement in insulin sensitivity.
Not sold on going vegan?? That’s okay. Even serving a few meatless meals each week is a great start toward healthier eating:
And you will find some tasty recipes at www.vegetariantimes.com.
May is National High Blood Pressure Awareness Month. About 1 in 3 American adults have high blood pressure (the force of blood pushing against your artery walls as the heart pumps out blood). It silently damages the heart, blood vessels, and kidneys. If you don’t get it checked regularly, it won’t be picked up.
Adult Blood Pressure Guidelines from National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute: Normal: less than 120/80; Pre-hypertension: 120-139/80-89; Stage 1 High blood pressure: 140-159/90-99; Stage 2 High blood pressure: 160 or more/100 or more.
Increased risk for high blood pressure: * older age: men >45 and women >55 *African-American or Hispanic * overweight or obesity *not enough physical activity
Unhealthy lifestyle habits for high blood pressure: *too much sodium or salt *too much alcohol * too little potassium * smoking *
Great information and recipes for high blood pressure prevention: National Heart Lung and Blood Institute at www.nhlb.gov or The American Heart Association at www.americanheart.org.
This yummy turkey breast meatloaf is made with sauteed fresh vegetables, egg whites, and bread crumbs – no salt or high sodium condiments – just a touch of catsup.
February is Heart Month. The American Heart Association has an interactive website that helps you assess your heart disease risk, and then develop action steps to improve your heart health: www.americanheart.org.
You can also check out the AHA “Heart 360” online health management tool. It lets you track and monitor your blood pressure, cholesterol, blood glucose, weight, physical activity and medications taken. And you will find some great heart healthy recipes at www.americanheart.org.
Another great AHA website for assessing your heart health based on seven simple factors is www.MyLifeCheck.org. These are the areas that you can check out: