Tag Archives: heart healthy

DASH Diet for Lowering Blood Pressure

18 Apr

DASH Diet

 [Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension]

In addition to following the American Heart Association’s (AHA) heart healthy diet recommendations (low-fat, high fiber diet with fruits and vegetables and plant-based protein), the DASH diet emphasizes a low sodium diet with adequate amounts of calcium, potassium and magnesium. This plan has been shown to lower blood pressure in as quickly as two weeks. Following this plan may also lower LDL (bad) cholesterol.

The Guidelines:

    • 1500mg sodium [The AHA recommends this amount of sodium for ALL individuals]
    • 4700mg potassium
    • 1250mg calcium
    • 500mg magnesium

How to lower sodium intake:

  • Eat more fresh fruits and vegetables for snacks
  • Cook from scratch and freeze leftovers
  • Don’t add salt to your food
  • Eat out less often; ask servers how the food is prepared and ask for sauce on the side and/or no salt added
  • Go easy on the condiments
  • Rinse canned beans well
  • Choose frozen/fresh over canned vegetables
  • Limit frozen dinners or if you do have one on occasion, look for ones with less than 600mg sodium
  • Read labels: aim for foods with no more than 300mg per serving (less than 150mg is even better)

Reducing your sodium intake is extremely important to lowering blood pressure, but the following nutrients have also been shown to play a role. Focus on eating a variety of fruits and vegetables daily (5 to 9 servings per day) as well as the other nutrient-dense foods below.

 Potassium rich foods: potatoes, banana, soybeans, apricots, sweet potato, lentils, spinach, zucchini, almonds, kidney beans, oranges, fat-free milk, low-fat yogurt, fish, wheat germ

 

Photo source

 

Magnesium rich foods: halibut, almonds, cashews, soybeans, spinach, whole wheat products, shredded wheat cereal, oatmeal, potatoes, peanuts, wheat bran, pumpkin seeds, low-fat yogurt, brown rice, lentils, avocado, kidney beans, wheat germ, banana, sunflower seeds, flaxseed

 Calcium rich foods: fat-free milk, low-fat yogurt, collard greens, black strap molasses, calcium-fortified orange juice, turnip greens, tofu, tempeh, kale, soybeans, okra, bok choy, broccoli, tahini, almonds, fortified soy milk, wheat germ

For more information visit the DASH Diet.

DASH Yogurt Parfait

Yield: 1 parfait

Time: 5 minutes

 Ingredients:

  • ½ cup wheat bran cereal
  • 1 6oz container of vanilla non-fat Greek yogurt [better yet, plain yogurt – lower in sugar]
  • ½ medium banana, sliced
  • 1/8 cup sliced almonds
  • 1 Tbsp chopped dried apricots

 Place ¼ cup cereal in a small bowl; layer 3oz yogurt, ¼ banana, 1/16 cup almonds, ½ Tbsp apricots. Repeat.

 Nutrition Stats: 300 calories, 5gm fat, 0.6gm saturated, 66mg sodium, 47gm carbohydrate, 9.5gm fiber, 27gm sugar, 22gm protein

 Other ways to lower your blood pressure:

  • Exercise at least 30-60 minutes 3-6 days per week
  • Weight loss, if needed
  • Caffeinated beverages can increase blood pressure, consume sparingly
  • Quit smoking
  • Practice stress management
  • Increase fiber intake [fruits, vegetables, whole grains]

Tofu Butternut Squash Tomato Sauce Over Spaghetti Squash

16 Feb

This dish was by far my favorite spaghetti squash pasta yet – and couldn’t have been easier!

Serves: 2

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium spaghetti squash
  • 1 cup sliced fresh mushrooms
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4-1/2 uncooked butternut squash, cubed
  • 1/8-1/4 block extra firm lite tofu (lite can be found at larger health food stores)
  • 1 jar reduced sodium spaghetti sauce (we like Prego Heart Smart)
  • Onion powder, to taste
  • Italian seasoning, to taste
  • Red pepper flakes, to taste

One. Cut squash in half lengthwise; remove seeds. Place cut side down in a 13 x 9 microwave safe dish. Add 1/4 cup water to dish. Microwave on high for 10-13 minutes or until tender. Can also bake in the oven.

 Two. While the squash is cooking, heat up a large nonstick skillet and spray with olive oil or canola oil cooking spray. Add mushrooms, onion, butternut squash and garlic; cook over medium heat until tender. Add sauce and seasonings; bring to a boil and simmer for 2-3 minutes. 

 

Three. Use a fork and run it across the spaghetti squash to remove the strands. Serve sauce over squash. (Mine is also topped with pine nuts, which I didn’t particularly like – but I think my nuts may have been rancid).

Nutrition Notes :: Spaghetti squash is a great way to make a low calorie pasta dish that tastes delicious and provides additional vitamins (good source of B vitamins, vitamin C, potassium, manganese) that pasta does not. Onions contain quercetin, an antioxidant and tomatoes (in the sauce) are also contain antioxidants. Soy (tofu) helps to lower cholesterol. Garlic is wonderful for the heart: it has been shown to lower LDL (bad) cholesterol and triglycerides, decreases plaque build up in arteries and may even lower blood pressure. And yes, jarred pasta sauce can be okay – I just make sure to choose a low sodium version (and if I have the time, puree extra peppers, tomatoes and onion in the sauce for my picky eater fiance). Also, my version is gluten-free – just make sure to check your sauce.

Last, but not least, this dish was great when paired with one of my favorite drinkable treats.