DASH!

DASH-Dietary Approach to Stop Hypertension

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DASH is a kind of flexible, harmonious, balanced eating plan towards improving the blood lipid levels, there by preventing the high blood pressure and the cardiovascular disease.

Why prevent hypertension?

When the blood pressure elevates, it puts an extra stress to the heart and blood vessels. If the blood pressure is not controlled and stays high all the time, then you are at a high risk of heart attacks, strokes, and renal (kidney) disease. Many factors can affect blood pressure, like amount of water and sodium in the body, the condition of renal and blood vessels, and the hormone levels. As you grow older your blood vessels become stiffer and this could be one of the reason for high blood pressure.

Trans fats and excess saturated fat will raise your LDL cholesterol level in the arteries. Cholesterol is a soft, waxy substance and is essential for normal cellular structure and function. But excess amount of this waxy substance can cause clogged or blocked arteries. that puts you at a risk of heart attack and stroke! As the blockages build, the blood flow will be restricted and to overcome this restricted blood flow, the heart has to work harder and must increase the pressure to pump blood efficiently.

The result is hypertension, an elevation in Blood pressure, a silent killer!

Though the body can produce 75% of the body cholesterol, and remaining 25% is achieved through the diet, it is obvious that excess saturated & trans fat will elevate the total cholesterol in the blood if consumed in excess!

It is obvious that smart eating strategies will help to control blood pressure.

Low in saturated fats and trans fats DASH Rich in potassium, calcium, magnesium, fiber, and protein

DASH eating plan is focused on: Incorporating whole grains, fish, poultry, beans, seeds, nuts, and vegetable oils; Emphasizing vegetables, fruits, and fat-free & Low-fat dairy products, and reducing the sodium, sweets, sugary beverages and red meats.

High fiber, low-fat, and low-sodium foods are great help in lowering your blood pressure. Oats, quinoa, barley, amaranth, buckwheat are the whole grains that fits into this category.

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Dash guidelines also suggests having more foods rich in potassium, calcium, and magnesium.

Leafy greens like romaine lettuce, turnip greens, spinach, are high in potassium. Foods high in potassium gives you a better ratio of potassium to sodium that help control the blood pressure.

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Studies show that flavonoids rich fruits like blueberries, strawberries, raspberries help prevent hypertension.

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Potatoes are good source of both potassium and magnesium, the two potential minerals that can help to lower blood pressure. Baked potato with yogurt or tomato & onion salsa for great flavor!

Banana too is an excellent source of potassium, that helps

Nitrates, a natural chemical in beets help bring down the blood pressure. Roasted or steamed beets with spinach is an excellent salad to reap the benefit of this heart friendly chemical.

Calcium rich skim-milk is an excellent source of calcium and low in fat, an ideal food for maintaining blood pressure.

Consume less amount of saturated rich products like butter, whole milk, ice cream, and fatty meats.

Stay away from food that are high in sodium like:

Processed foods like smoked meats, bacon, hot dogs, sausage, bologna, ham and salami

Anchovies, pickles, and sauerkraut

Soy sauce, tomato sauce, vegetable juice and cheese

Bottled salad dressings

Snack foods like chips, crackers, salted nuts.

Individual with hypertension, should abstain from alcohol that help reduce the risk of stroke.

While cooking, it is healthy to replace salt with other seasonings like pepper, garlic, cilantro, basil, parsley and lemon. Spice blends are high in salt. So, try to avoid the ready to use packaged spice blends.

Read labels to understand the sodium contents of the product like:

Sodium Nitrite, Sodium Nitrate, Sodium Citrate, for these chemicals may pose a cancer risk.

Do not purchase food with MSG-Mono sodium glutamate. Mono sodium glutamate, will cause a form of neuro-toxicity. The insidious nature of MSG acts as nerve stimulant that changes the taste buds to taste even the bad food, a real fantastic!

Heart & Stroke Foundation recommends 2,300mg (1tsp/5mL of table salt) sodium a day.

Please click https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/files/docs/public/heart/dash_brief.pdf for your guide to lowering blood pressure with DASH

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DASH diet is a great way to enjoy food while naturally lowering blood pressure. A little DASH goes a long way!

References:

http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/

www.mayoclinic.com

www.webmd.com

http://www.heartandstroke.on.ca/

Wild & Precious : Low in Calorie!

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Can diabetics eat pumpkin……….?

Sure, why not?

Is pumpkin low in carbs…………..?

Yes. It is low in carbohydrate. It is one of the best plant food in the world, for the pumpkin is chock-full of nutrients!

Pumpkin offers protein, complex carbohydrates, potassium, iron and vitamin A.

This bright orange vegetable is loaded with betacarotene, the precursor to vitamin A. Beta carotene is an antioxidant that protects cells from damage caused by free radicals. Carrot, sweet potato, spinach, swiss chard, sweet bell pepper, lettuce, tomatoes, cantaloupe, mango are the other good sources of beta carotene. The principal function of vitamin A is in the visual process where it promotes good vision. It also helps form and maintain healthy skin, teeth, skeletal and soft tissue, mucus membranes and skin. Retinol is another name for vitamin A, for it produces the pigments in the retina of the eyes! The best source of vitamin A are the carotenoids from fruits and vegetables.

Pumpkin is a good source of potassium. Along with calcium, the bone mineral and magnesium, potassium plays a major role in cardiovascular health. Potassium helps the body to excrete excess sodium and at the same time helps increase the calcium retention which prevents the magnesium loss! This intimate relationship between calcium, potassium and magnesium is important for many of the vital bodily functions! Having variety of bright colored fruits and vegetables, is the key.

Is pumpkin good for diabetics? A serious question asked by many diabetic patients! Many list this beautiful orange and plump pumpkin under starchy vegetables and tend to avoid consuming it! In fact, it is one of the best foods for diabetic patients. In moderate amount along with cereals and beans, you can reap the benefits of this wonderful pumpkin. For example, Quinoa, black bean and pumpkin soup is a filling meal with a healthy and nutritious ingredients!

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Pumpkin once boiled has the highest score of GI value as 75. But total carbohydrate is only 6-8%. Surprised!  Yes, the total carbohydrate in baked pumpkin is just only 6-8% when compared to the baked potato with 17%. It is obvious that the total carbohydrate (sugars and starch) in it will not have much effect on the blood glucose levels, provided if you could take the right-portion-size. Portion Size Matters!  The lower carb value that offsets the higher GI Value! Sounds great!

Canned pumpkin is high in carbohydrate that may elevate your blood sugar. So, always grab fresh pumpkin from the market.

The iron in pumpkin is non-heme, that requires sufficient amount of vitamin C to get absorbed. So, enjoy pumpkin with vitamin C rich fruits to enhance the absorption of iron.

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Pumpkin shows up in appetizers, soups, salad, bread, dessert, and savories. It always adds texture, color, and nutrition to the dish. In fact, pumpkin is a wonderful vegetable by itself in addition to being an adaptable ingredient in all savory dishes. Pumpkin soup made with pureed pumpkin and cream & spices yields roughly 150-180 calories per cup. The calorie value shoot up when high-calorie ingredients like cheddar cheese, butter and more cream are added to the soup! Ingredients added to the recipe also matters!

How about roasted salmon and pumpkin for dinner? Sounds great!

Pumpkin seeds also supply protein, minerals such as phosphorous, magnesium, iron, manganese, zinc, copper and vitamins: A, B1, B2, and B3. Like nuts pumpkin seeds too, a good source of  mono unsaturated fats!          2-3 tablespoons of seeds or nuts/day is recommended for obtaining their special health benefits.

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Pumpkin! Good for you!

To maintain a healthy body weight, enjoy the right portion of the food and of course the right amount of exercise, min.30 minutes, everyday!

References:

http://www.mayoclinic.org/

http://ndb.nal.usda.gov/

http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/educational/wecan/eat-right/distortion.htm

http://ginews.blogspot.sg/

Understanding Protein

Muscle tissue is often the first bodily structure that strikes your mind when considering protein existence in the body. Indeed, the majority of the body’s protein exists in the form of skeletal, bone, and organ tissues! Proteins are also part of enzymes, antibodies, lipoproteins, hormones, hemoglobin, albumin and are profoundly powerful.

Meat, poultry, seafood, beans & peas, eggs, dairy products, nuts and seeds are considered best sources of protein foods.

Wonder what makes almonds a high-quality protein and egg & meat considered, a complete protein food?

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Protein in the human body is composed of 20 amino acids. More than half of these (called non-essential amino acids) can be synthesized by the human body. Nine of them (called essential amino acids) should be obtained through the diet, for the body cannot manufacture them!

Animal protein and egg are considered High-quality, high biological value and complete protein foods, for they contain all the essential amino acids.

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Histine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan, and valine are the 9 essential amino acids. They have vital role in – regulating your mood & sleep, muscle metabolism, fatty acid metabolism, the production of sulphur, regulating blood sugar, aiding the production of collagen, antibody formation, and regulating the central and peripheral nervous system.

Proteins’ functions are really wonderful and amazing!

For example, Tryptophan helps maintain your body’s serotonin and melatonin, the neurotransmitters levels that plays vital role in the regulation of mood and sleep. Isn’t it obvious that low levels of tryptophan can lead to depression and insomnia? Chocolate, mangoes, dairy products, oats, eggs, fish, chickpeas, sunflower and pumpkin seeds are good sources of tryptophan. Drinking milk before bed, makes sense!

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Leucine, another essential amino acid,  increases the muscle mass and helps muscle recovery after exercise. Dairy products, meat, soy protein, nuts & seeds (sesame, sunflower, pumpkin) are listed as good sources of leucine

Beans & peas are good sources of plant protein and are considered vegetable alternatives for meat. In addition, they also provide iron and zinc. Though they are similar to meats, poultry, and fish in their contribution to protein, plant proteins are referred as incomplete protein, for they are difficient in one or more of the essential amino acids. Grains tend to be low in lysine and beans are low in methionine and cysteine.

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Of the plant proteins soy, quinoa are considered complete and high-quality protein! Almonds are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, protein, vitamins & minerals and need no fortification!

Get a good mix of protein

Vegan should consider the quality of protein while planning their meal. It is important to consume a variety of plant protein foods to get all the essential amino acids over the course of the day. It is very easy to meet the recommendations for protein, through varied diet throughout the day. The key is to consume a variety and the right amount of foods to meet your calorie and nutrient needs. 

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Combining plant proteins, generally referred as “Complementary proteins,” is the best way to achieve all the essential amino acids.

Beans and rice, beans and corn, beans and wheat, white cheddar with whole wheat pasta, yogurt with flax seeds, green salad with nuts & seeds, mango & quinoa salad, whole wheat or rye bread and peanut butter are few of the examples of combined complementary proteins.

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Avocado fruit, widely considered as vegetable, mixed with beans and corn is an excellent combined complementary proteins salad! Avocado contains a generous amount of omega 6 and omega 3 essential fatty acids, too!

Quinoa provides all 9 essential amino acids and is gluten free!

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Quinoa-mango salad – colourful and highly nutritious!

Tender beans & peas are also considered part of the vegetable groups, for they are good sources of fibers and potassium. Beans and  peas are recommended, for both vegetarian and non-vegetarians because of their high nutrient content.

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You need to pay attention to the package of the protein, too!

For example, in beans, nuts, seeds and whole grains, protein comes in a package with healthful fiber and micronutrients. When you consider meat or whole milk, it is just the contrary! The protein comes packaged with unhealthy fat!

Though animal proteins are considered as, “High – quality, high biological value and complete protein food, they are also high in saturated fats!” Diets high in animal fats will not give a reduced risk of heart disease. So, go lean with protein:

  • Round steaks top loin, top sirloin, chuck shoulder are the leanest beef cuts.
  • Boneless, skinless chicken breasts and turkey cutlets are the leanest poultry choices.

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  • Choose boiling, broiling, grilling, roasting or poaching cooking methods instead of frying. Avoid breading or battering the meat, poultry or fish. Breading adds calories, battering absorbs more oil there by increasing the calories!

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  • Opt for low-fat dairy products.

For recommended daily amounts of protein, click: http://www.choosemyplate.gov/printpages/MyPlateFoodGroups/ProteinFoods/food-groups.protein-foods-amount.pdf

Protein supplement is the spot light these days! There are many advertisements too, for protein supplements like whey protein, casein, soy protein, protein-energy bars & cookies, testosterone-fueled protein products. Are they truly necessary for you?  Many nutritional experts say “No…….,” to supplements.  

A balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy products, nuts and lean meats & sea foods will give you all the essential nutrients your body requires for optimal health.

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There are many articles touting high protein diet. These high-protein diets, are gaining more popularity among those who want to drop pounds and build muscles. A total misguidance. These plans restrict carbs and the major source of protein is the red meat and full-fat dairy products, rich in saturated fats that raises the risk of cardiac disease! So, protein alone, as a tool for weight loss or weight maintenance, should not be encouraged.

Recently, I had a conversation with a taxi driver, a very beautiful lady, on “Health & Nutrition!” She did mention that there was no time for her to concentrate on physical activity and doesn’t like to take fruits. Also said that she is taking supplements especially, the protein and much more interested to go for vitamins & mineral supplements! I am not very comfortable with her, taking a protein supplement, which she really doesn’t need! She was not convinced when I said no to supplements. So, with much caution and care, I did explain that protein supplements are designed for the professional athletes who are involved with intense training and for patients with muscle wasting. I discouraged her, who hardly does exercise, from having these protein supplements. I  encouraged her to do exercise minimum 30mins/day (10-minute increment) and take more fruits and vegetables for vitamins & minerals with whole grains, beans and lean meat! When we reached the destination, with a broad smile, she did agree to take a balanced diet and will try to do physical activities, in future!

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Protein supplements, even for athletes is only upon consultation with doctors and sports dietitian based on their training load, daily energy requirements, and their general dietary intake. Many protein-amino acid supplementation are linked to dehydration, hypercalciuria, weight gain, and stress on liver & kidneys! So, in general, athletes are encouraged to opt for small, frequent servings of high-quality protein rich foods that will not only provide adequate protein but also other nutrients that the body requires!

Why supplements when you can get good amount of protein, vitamins, minerals from the balanced food you eat everyday?

I would like to conclude that, “ A balanced diet rich in vegetables & fruits, dairy products, nuts & seeds, beans, lean meats, and whole grains will give the body adequate calorie, protien, vitamins & minerals required for optimal health.” Well balanced meals with regular physical activities, everyday, help manage your weight easily!

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References