Category: "Salty Stuff"

10 Blood Pressure-Lowering Tips

April 19th, 2014 | no comments

 

High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, affects 1 in 3 adults and is the most common cardiovascular disease.

Blood pressure actually refers to the force of your blood on your artery walls as it makes its way through your body. Just like too much air pressure damages a tire, if your blood pressure is too high, it can threaten the health of your arteries and lead to heart disease, stroke and kidney disease.

High blood pressure carries no symptoms. In fact, hypertension is known as the “silent killer” because it shows no early signs. The only way to tell if you have high blood pressure is to routinely have your blood pressure checked.

Here are ten steps you can take today to lower your blood pressure:

  1. Be informed! If you haven’t had your blood pressure checked recently, make an appointment with your doctor.
    HINT: Aim for a blood pressure reading of below 120/80 mmHg
  2. Avoid the salt shaker. Herbs, salt-free spices, lemon juice, vinegar and salt substitutes can all be used in place of table salt to flavor your food without adding sodium.
    HINT: Salt substitutes labeled “sodium-free” most likely contain potassium chloride and contain no sodium. These substitutes may not be for everyone and can actually be dangerous for some people. If you have kidney problems or are on medication for your heart, kidneys or liver, it’s best to check with your doctor before using salt substitutes with potassium.
  3. Read it before you eat it! Read food labels for sodium and choose the lower sodium option of soups, snack foods and other processed foods.
    HINT: 140 mg of sodium or less per serving is considered “low sodium”
  4. Eat your fruits and veggies! They’re loaded with potassium, magnesium and fiber, which helps “blunt” the effects of sodium on your blood pressure.
    HINT: Bananas, broccoli, pinto beans and potatoes are all considered good sources of potassium!
  5. Choose fresh or frozen vegetables instead of canned.
    HINT: Frozen veggies are just as healthy as fresh. Just make sure they’re not covered in cheese sauce!
  6. Rinse. If you eat canned foods like beans, vegetables, or olives, rinse them under cold water in a strainer to remove some of the sodium.
    HINT: Rinsing removes up to 30% of the sodium.
  7. Get fresh. Eat less processed meats like deli meats, hot dogs and sausage and choose more fresh meats like chicken and fish.
    HINT: At Subway, aim for the 6″ Oven Roasted Chicken sub instead of the Cold Cut Combo and save 420 mg of sodium.
  8. Kick the habit. Smoking increases blood pressure, heart rate and blood clotting and decreases oxygen delivery to your heart. If you smoke cigarettes and have been thinking about quitting, ask for help! Remember, you are not alone.
    HINT: The Center for Disease Control (CDC) offers tons of support to quit smoking, including free quit coaching, a free quit plan, free educational materials, and referrals to local resources, call 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669)
  9. Chill out. Make time each morning to practice relaxation techniques. Five minutes is all it takes!
    HINT: I’m currently taking the “Oprah & Deepak 21-Day Meditation Challenge.” Check it out for free at: www.chopracentermeditation.com
  10. Get moving! Aerobic exercise reduces blood pressure in both hypertensive and non-hypertensive people, so there really is no good excuse to skip out on it. Find ways to sneak more movement into your day…you’re worth it!
    HINT: The recommendation is 30 minutes of exercise most days of the week…BUT you don’t have to do it all at one time. Three 10-minute sessions works just as well.

Make it happen! If you have high blood pressure (or want to prevent high blood pressure)- choose one tip from above to put into practice today and the rest of the week. You. Are. Worth. It.

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Eating soup can save you calories!

February 14th, 2014 | no comments

No, it’s not some sort of whacky soup diet…soup consumption really IS linked to eating fewer calories. What’s more, recent studies have revealed that soup consumption is associated with a lower risk of obesity and aids in body weight management.

There’s only one problem however– soup (especially if it’s canned) tends to be pretty high in sodium. Some canned soups on the market today have upwards of 1000 milligrams of sodium per serving. I won’t even mention the hidden sodium in restaurant soups! OK…maybe just one example: A bowl of chicken noodle soup at your neighborhood Panera Bread will cost you a whopping 1380 milligrams of sodium! If you want to keep your heart in tiptop shape, you should really strive to eat under 2300 milligrams of sodium per day.

So what should you be looking for on a food label? The goal is to aim for less than 500 milligrams of sodium per serving. Don’t worry, there are plenty of tasty, reduced sodium soups out there. Here are a few of my favorites:

  • Amy’s Organic Light in Sodium Soups (Cream of Tomato, Butternut Squash, Lentil Vegetable, Split Pea, Spicy Chili and Minestrone). Less than 350 milligrams of sodium per serving.
  • Pacific Organic Soups (Roasted Red Pepper and Tomato, Creamy Butternut Squash, Creamy Tomato). Less than 400 milligrams of sodium per serving.

NOTE: Most soups contain two servings per container! Eating the entire can means you’ll be downing double the sodium.

Of course if you really want to control your soup sodium, homemade is always your best bet. Click here for a few delicious recipes to try out!

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I’m angry…and you should be too!

March 11th, 2013 | no comments

angryImagine your significant other, parent, friend, co-worker, boss, or a complete stranger, spending countless hours masterminding the most devious of schemes. The goal? To hypnotize you under their control. The stronger their hold, the more difficult it becomes to break away. They lie (very convincingly), leading you to believe they really care about you…and you in fact believe them because you are completely unaware of their manipulative powers. You become brainwashed. You find that you can’t live without them and become addicted to their power—addicted to them.

No one—and I mean NO ONE— likes to be manipulated. The only thing worse is being manipulated your entire life and not even realizing it. No…I take that back. There is something worse. Being manipulated your entire life and then blaming yourself for the person you’ve become.

Am I ruffling your feathers a bit? Are you hot and bothered at the mere thought of another person making it their life’s mission to dominate your mind and body…to literally wreck your well-being?

Are you angry? You should be. I am. In fact, I am furious!

The scenario I just painted is real my friends. You are being manipulated…by food.

I’m not talking apples, oatmeal and carrots here. I’m talking ooey-gooey, cheesy, salty, sugary, fried, flaky, crunchy, chocolatey processed foods. Foods coming not from the earth, but from a factory.

Did you know that food makers spend millions of dollars concocting specially formulated recipes that will stimulate your brain to want more and more of the yielded food? The main ingredients? Fat, sugar and salt. There’s even a name for the end result that is responsible for creating this out-of-control, eat-till-it’s-gone-and-you-feel-like-a-pig behavior. It’s called the “Bliss Point.” That precise point at which you derive the greatest pleasure from fat, sugar and salt. In other words, it’s that point which creates the greatest amount of CRAVE.

Are you angry? You should be.

Are you angry at yourself? Stop it! Stop blaming yourself for getting “drunk” on potato chips, doughnuts and chocolate chip cookies. This unstoppable force isn’t born out of a lack of willpower or self-control…it’s the food.

Real food (i.e. food from the earth/one-ingredient foods) doesn’t perpetuate binge-related behavior. It satisfies. It nourishes. It pleases the body, mind and soul. It eases (not causes) disease.

Be aware. Be angry, then proactive. Take control…because it’s YOUR body. I’m not suggesting you swear off your most treasured delectable treats. Just be aware and take caution. Know what they do to your brain and create a plan for portion-control.

I don’t know about you, but I’ll be damned if I’m going to stand by and let anyone or anything (insert processed food here) control my health…unless it’s me. I’m worth more than that. YOU are worth more than that.

Are you angry? You should be.

Now go do something about it.

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Are your cold cuts nitrite-free?

July 2nd, 2012 | no comments

From Boston to Beverly Hills, the beloved lunchmeat sandwich has graced the interior of lunchboxes and picnic baskets for decades. I can remember as a child, my mother would send me off to school with my little Strawberry Shortcake lunchbox filled with a bologna, cheese and mustard sandwich on Wonder Bread (what else?), a package of Ho-Ho’s (what was she thinking?!) and a perfectly sectioned orange. Although that was thirty years ago, cold cut sandwiches (and unfortunately Ho-Ho’s) are still mainstays. Sure they’re convenient…but are they the best choice? I’m afraid not.

Not only is it next to impossible to find a low sodium lunchmeat (some have upwards of 1000 milligrams per serving), in addition, many contain harmful substances— specifically sodium nitrates and sodium nitrites. Both are used as preservatives and add color and flavor to processed meats such as: Bacon, ham, hotdogs, luncheon meats, smoked fish and corned beef.

Why exactly are they so harmful?

Sodium nitrites and nitrates may cause certain cancers in children and adults. A more recent study uncovered the possibility that these preservatives could interact with medication to damage DNA (your genetic material) and increase cancer risk.

According to Mayo Clinic cardiologist Dr. Martha Grogan, M.D., sodium nitrate may harm your heart. It’s thought that sodium nitrate may damage your blood vessels, making your arteries more likely to harden and narrow, leading to heart disease. Nitrates may also affect the way your body uses sugar, making you more likely to develop diabetes.

Build a better sandwich:

  • Tuna salad: Mix together a 3 ounce can of low sodium light tuna, olive oil mayonnaise and black beans. Serve on whole grain bread
  • Egg salad: Mash 1 hard-boiled egg and mix with olive oil mayonnaise and 1/4 cup chopped red pepper. Serve on whole grain bread or whole wheat crackers.
  • Leftover chicken: Slice up 2-3 ounces of baked chicken from yesterday’s dinner and top with a couple slices of avocado, fresh spinach and hummus. Serve in a whole wheat pita.
  • Hummus and veggies: Line a whole what pita with two tablespoons of your favorite hummus. Stuff with sliced cucumbers, bell pepper strips and tomatoes, shaved carrots, alfalfa sprouts and a handful of mesclun salad greens.

On your next grocery trip, why not bypass the deli counter and head for the produce and fresh meat department instead? Oh, and don’t forget to pick up a dozen eggs on your way. Get creative! Be healthy! YOU are worth it.

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Sea salt vs. table salt

September 13th, 2011 | no comments

sea saltSea salt or table salt- which is better for you? Before we get to the answer, here are the facts. Both are made up of 40% sodium and 60% chloride. Table salt is mined from underground rock salt and undergoes processing to remove trace minerals. Iodine, an essential nutrient, is added to most forms of table salt.

Per 1/4 teaspoon, table salt has approximately: 590 mgs of sodium

Sea salt is obtained by the evaporation of seawater, with very little processing. It usually contains some trace minerals and elements, giving it a slightly different flavor than regular table salt. Sea salt grains may or may not be bigger than those of table salt, but if they’re bigger, you may end up using less.

Per 1/4 teaspoon, sea salt has approximately: 400-590 mgs of sodium

So, do the extra minerals found in sea salt make it a healthier choice? Sorry to disappoint you, but salt is salt! Your body doesn’t care if it comes from the sea or an underground salt mine, it processes both the same way. Consider the following facts:

  • Although sodium is an essential mineral for life, you only need a few HUNDRED milligrams to survive
  • The average American takes in between 3000-6000 mgs per day
  • Sodium recommendations are between 1500-2300 mgs per day

So what should you do?

  • Whether it’s sea salt or table salt- get that shaker off of the table!
  • Reduce the amount of processed foods (like frozen, canned, snack, and boxed convenience foods) in your diet
  • Read food labels for sodium and always opt for the lower sodium choices
  • Flavor your foods with herbs and spices instead of salt
  • Give your taste buds a chance to adapt to less sodium. Don’t be surprised when your old salty favorites taste too salty for your taste buds!

Make it an energizing day!

Melanie

 

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