DASH Diet- bite this, not that!

DASH Diet- bite this, not that!

HTN (high blood pressure) affects 29% of US Adults, which is 1 in 3 people.  Having high blood pressure greatly increases the risk of developing heart disease or strokes.  High BP is genetic, but there are several dietary changes that can lower it.


Bite this:


  1. Fruits & veggies. September is fruits & veggies- more matters month. People with HTN should aim for 4 servings of fruit and 4 or more servings of veggies/day.   Dark green vegetables like kale, spinach, broccoli are good sources of potassium as are dark orange fruits and vegetables like citrus (oranges/grapefruit), peaches, cantaloupe, sweet potatoes and squash.  Kiwi, bananas and tomatoes are also high in potassium.


  1. High calcium foods, like dairy products. Dairy is not just for strong bones and teeth.  Studies show that people who have higher calcium intakes, have lower blood pressure.  Choose low sodium string cheese, low fat yogurt, skim or 1% milk.  Two servings/day are advised.  5% or less sodium is advised on cheese (read labels)


  1. Nuts, seeds and legumes. These foods are high in magnesium, potassium and fiber, all of which are heart-healthy.  Aim for 4-5 servings/week (small handful, ¼ cup is a serving for nuts, ½ cup for beans or peas).


  1. Whole grains. Whole grains like steel cut oats, bulgur, 100% whole wheat bread are high in magnesium and fiber, which have been shown to lower blood pressure. Aim for at least 3 servings/day.


Not that:

  1. High sodium foods. Sorry bacon and hot dogs. Your high sodium, high fat content does not make the cut here.  Sodium raises blood pressure.  Even “healthy” lunch meat (like turkey breast) can be high in sodium.


  1. Excessive alcohol intake raises blood pressure.  Moderation is 1 drink/day for women and 2 drinks/day for men.  Too much can cause weight gain, fatty liver and increased risk for several cancers.


  1. Excess caffeine. Caffeine raises blood pressure temporarily, so don’t drink in excess.  Both light and dark roasts contain about the same amount of caffeine.  Arabica coffee, which is more expensive, will contain LESS caffeine.  One cup/day provides 250-600 mg caffeine.


  1. High calorie/junk food: Excess calories lead to weight gain, which affects blood pressure.  An analysis of controlled studies showed that an 11 lb. weight loss would lower blood pressure by 4.44 mm systolic and 3.57 mm diastolic. The top number refers to the amount of pressure in your arteries during contraction of your heart muscle (systolic pressure). The bottom number refers to your blood pressure when your heart muscle is between beats. (diastolic pressure).
Lighter Mexican Fare

Lighter Mexican Fare

Let’s face it.  Mexican food is becoming more popular because It. Is. Delicious!  But the basket of chips and salsa you’ve just inhaled has over 1000 calories and that 10 oz. margarita you’re sipping has over 500.  Sadly you’ve consumed that much before your fajitas even hit the table!


The good news is you can make your meal (and weight) a little lighter with a few simple swaps.  Whether you’re eating at a popular “build your own burrito” type restaurant (you know who you are…) or making Mexican at home, follow the tips below for lighter Mexican fare.  Ole!


  1. Corn tortilla or wheat?  When eating Mexican, go for 6” corn tortillas. The ingredient list is short and 2 tortillas have only 130 calories, 50 grams of sodium and 2 grams of fiber. A large flour tortilla can add an extra 200 calories to your plate.


  1. Beans or rice? Beans!  Black or pinto beans are loaded with appetite-squelching fiber and protein, so they fill you up between meals.  Beans also help manage blood sugar and lower cholesterol.  Rice is nice, so opt for brown rice when you can.


  1. Salsa or Cheese? Salsa!  Salsa is not just a condiment.  It’s a vegetable!  At just 25 calories per tablespoon, you’ll get a decent dose of vitamin C, potassium and lycopene, a nutrient found to reduce prostate and ovarian cancer.  If you must have cheese, go light.


  1. Guacamole vs Sour Cream? While guacamole is calorie dense, it’s an excellent source of heart-healthy potassium and mono-unsaturated fat.  Sour cream = fat and fat only.


  1. Wrap or bowl? Bowl please.  Load your bowl with lots of lettuce, peppers, tomatoes, salsa and beans and go easy on the beef, chicken and cheese.  You’d be surprised at how filling all those vegetables can be.  You won’t even miss the rice or wrap.
Packing School Lunch

Packing School Lunch

Dust off the Dora lunchbox, school is back in session.  And like every busy parent, you may be thinking, “what else can I pack in my kid’s lunch besides PB & J?”  And with the risk for allergies, you may not be able to even pack that!  Thankfully, there are lots of other options available.


Unless you’re living in California where Caesar salad is the norm, school lunch may or may not have much to offer.  Many schools offer ‘kiddy’ favorites’ like chicken nuggets and burgers and fries, which are not very nutritious and may lead to poor eating habits over time.  Below are some new ideas for lunch.


Bite this:


  1. Beans are an excellent protein source, as well as being high in fiber, folate, zinc and iron.  Serve cold black beans in a salad tossed with tomatoes, corn and quinoa, or warm them up and transfer to a thermos with rice.
  2. Wrap sandwiches. Have your child pick their favorite filler such as hummus, turkey breast or refried beans.  Tuck in some fresh spinach, salsa and shredded cheese and voila!
  3. It’s no wonder fruit is the number one snack among kids.  It’s packaged simply and there’s a wide variety to choose from.  Pick some seasonal favorites like apples, grapes, peaches or plums.
  4. Tuna salad. Fish is known to be brain food because of its perfect amino acid profile.  Toss white albacore tuna with some light mayo, sweet relish and chopped apples for something different.  Serve with whole wheat crackers or pita.
  5. Trail mix. No time to make a sandwich?  No problem.  Grab some almonds, Chex or Cheerios, dried fruit and throw it in a baggy.  Add a banana and milk money and your job is done.


Not that:

  1. Lunchables. Bad choice.  These tiny trays of processed meat, cheese and refined crackers are overpriced and over-salted.  You’re better off packing whole grain crackers, string cheese and fruit, which is just as simple.
  2. Mac n’ cheese. While macaroni has some nutritional value, the typical enriched elbows and cheese dust that make up boxed mac n’ cheese served in most cafeterias is little more than refined carbs, fat and salt.
  3. Granola bars. Disguised as ‘health food’, most granola bars are little more than oatmeal with chocolate coating, a few nuts and a lot of sugar.  Don’t fool yourself.
  4. Juice boxes. Though many juice boxes contain 100% fruit juice, your child is better off eating fruit than drinking the nectar.  Juice contributes excess calories and sugar- two things most kids don’t need.
  5. Soft white, ‘wheat’ bread. Sorry Charlie.  All bread is ‘wheat’ bread.  Companies are just trying to market this as whole grain, when it really isn’t.  Unless the first ingredient reads “100% whole wheat flour”, you’ve got an imposter flanking your lunch meat.

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