Lifestyle Solutions for a Happy Healthy You!

Posts tagged ‘spices’

The Spice that Could Help Boost Memory in Just One Hour

The Spice that Could Help Boost Memory in Just One Hour

While conducting the research for my upcoming book 60 Seconds to Boost Your Brain Power (Rodale, 2015), I came across an exciting study published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology. The double-blind, placebo-controlled study explored the effects of one of turmeric’s active ingredients known as curcumin on sixty healthy adults aged sixty to eighty-five to determine whether the spice has any short- or long-term memory or cognitive effects.

Conducted at the Swinburne University of Technology in Melbourne, Australia, researches assessed the mental effects of curcumin supplementation after one hour, three hours, and four weeks. They conducted multiple tests to determine whether the participants had any mood, cognitive, or blood marker effects that might indicate curcumin’s immediate or long-term effects. In just one hour after taking the supplement the participants showed significant performance improvement on memory and attention tasks compared to the placebo group.

The participants had many impressive results after four weeks of treatment with curcumin as well. The scientists indicated that working memory, energy levels, calmness and contentedness (as measures of mood), and even fatigue induced by psychological stress were significantly improved following the long-term treatment with the supplement. Participants also had lower cholesterol levels after taking the curcumin supplement.

Even Alzheimer’s patients with severe symptoms, including dementia, irritability, agitation, anxiety, and apathy, showed excellent therapeutic results when taking curcumin in a study published in the Japanese medical journal Ayu. When participants took 764 mg of turmeric with a standardized amount of 100 mg/day of curcumin for twelve weeks, they “started recovering from these symptoms without any adverse reaction in the clinical symptom and laboratory data.” After three months of treatment the patients’ symptoms and their reliance on caregivers significantly decreased. After one year of treatment two of the patients recognized their family members when they were unable to do so at the outset of the study. In one of the cases the person had a 17 percent improvement on their Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE) score.

The study results were achieved using a brand of curcumin called Longvida; however there are many other excellent brands. Ideally choose a standardized extract of curcumin. Follow package directions. Consult your physician prior to taking curcumin. In my upcoming book 60 Seconds to Boost Your Brain Power (Rodale, 2015), I recommend 400 mg of curcumin three times daily for people suffering from brain disorders, working with a physician.

Check out my new books Weekend Wonder Detox, 60 Seconds to Slim, andThe Probiotic Promise.Subscribe to my free e-magazine World’s Healthiest News to receive monthly health news, tips, recipes and more. Follow my blog on my sites HealthySurvivalist.com and DrMichelleCook.com, and Twitter @mschoffrocook and Facebook.Copyright Michelle Schoffro Cook, PhD. Take the FREE WEEKEND WONDER DETOX QUIZ to determine which detox is best for you.

By Michelle Schoffro Cook


Michelle Schoffro Cook, MSc, RNCP, ROHP, DNM, PhD is an international best-selling and 17-time book author and board-certified doctor of natural medicine, whose works include: 60 Seconds to Slim, Weekend Wonder Detox, Healing Recipes, The Vitality Diet, Allergy-Proof, Arthritis-Proof, Total Body Detox, The Life Force Diet, The Ultimate pH Solution, The 4-Week Ultimate Body Detox Plan, and the upcoming book The Probiotic Promise. Subscribe to her free e-magazine World’s Healthiest News at WorldsHealthiestDiet.com to receive monthly health news, tips, recipes and more. Follow her on Twitter @mschoffrocook and Facebook.

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Would feeling fantastic every day make a difference in your life?  

Healthy Highway is a Healthy Lifestyle Company offering Lifestyle Solutions for a Happy Healthy You!   We help people who are…

  • Wanting Work Life Balance.
  • Needing Stress Relief.
  • Concerned about their health and the environment.
  • Frustrated battling allergies to gluten, foods, dust, chemicals, pollen.
  • Overwhelmed with choosing the best products for their body, home, and office.
  • Unsatisfied with their relationships with the men and women in their life and are ready to transform them into satisfying, happy partnerships.
  • Standing at a Career Crossroad.
  • Preparing to start a family and want a healthy baby.
  • Seeking solutions for aging, more energy, and a good night’s sleep!

Are any of these an issue or problem for you?  Would it make sense for us to spend several minutes together to discuss your needs and how HealthyHighway can meet them? As a Healthy Lifestyle Coach with an emphasis on allergies and wellness, Leesa teaches her clients to make informed choices and enables them to make needed changes for a Happy Healthy Lifestyle. What you eat, what products you use ~ on your body and in your home and office, how you talk to yourself ~ it all matters!

Contact me today and Start today to live a healthier, happier life!  Don’t live in Atlanta?  Not a problem.  We do virtual coaching worldwide!

I look forward to helping YOU Live a Happy Healthy Life!  Remember, Excellent Health is found along your way, not just at your destination.

Live Well!

Leesa A. Wheeler

Leesa A. Wheeler

Healthy Lifestyle Coach, Artisan, Author of two books…
     Melodies from Within ~ Available Now! 
    Available on Amazon, Barnes&Noble, GooglePlay, iTunes! 

Member International Association for Health Coaches 

ring ~ 770-393-1284

write ~ info@healthyhighway.org

visit ~ www.healthyighway.org

coach, consult, contact ~ www.healthyhighway.org/contact.html

(Don’t live in Atlanta?  Not a problem!  We do virtual coaching worldwide!)

join our mailing list ~ www.healthyhighway.org

chcws ~ www.chews4health.com/Leesa

enjoy ~ www.chewcolat.com

follow ~ www.twitter.com/HealthyHighway

learn   www.healthyhighway.wordpress.com

like ~ www.tinyurl.com/Facebook-HealthyHighway

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skpe ~ healthyhighway

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10 Evidence-Based Health Benefits of Cinnamon

10 Evidence-Based Health Benefits of Cinnamon

Modern science has now confirmed what people have instinctively known for ages. Here are 10 health benefits of cinnamon that are supported by scientific research.

1. Cinnamon is High in a Substance With Powerful Medicinal Properties

Cinnamon is a spice that is made from the inner bark of trees called Cinnamomum.

It has been used as an ingredient throughout history, dating back as far as Ancient Egypt. It used to be rare and valuable, and was regarded as a gift fit for kings.

These days, cinnamon is cheap, available in every supermarket and found in all sorts of foods and recipes.

There are two main types of cinnamon (1):

  • Ceylon cinnamon: Also known as “true” cinnamon.
  • Cassia cinnamon: This is the more common variety today, what people generally refer to as “cinnamon.”

Cinnamon is made by cutting the stems of the cinnamomum tree. The inner bark is then extracted and the woody parts removed from it.

When it dries, it forms strips that curl into rolls, called cinnamon sticks. The sticks can be ground to form cinnamon powder.

This is what cinnamon looks like:

Cinnamon Sticks and Powder on Wooden Table

The distinct smell and flavor of cinnamon is due to the oily part, which is very high in a compound called cinnamaldehyde (2).

It is this compound that is responsible for most of cinnamon’s powerful effects on health and metabolism.

Bottom Line: Cinnamon is a popular spice. It is high in a substance called cinnamaldehyde, which is responsible for most of the health benefits.

2. Cinnamon is Loaded With Antioxidants

Antioxidants protect the body from oxidative damage caused by free radicals.

Cinnamon is loaded with powerful antioxidants, such as polyphenols (345).

In a study that compared the antioxidant activity of 26 spices, cinnamon wound up as the clear winner, even outranking “superfoods” like garlic and oregano (6).

In fact, it is so powerful that cinnamon can be used as a natural food preservative (7).

Bottom Line: Cinnamon contains large amounts of highly potent polyphenol antioxidants.

3. Cinnamon Has Anti-Inflammatory Properties

Inflammation in the body is incredibly important. It helps the body fight infections and repair tissue damage.

However, inflammation can become a problem when it is chronic (long-term) and directed against the body’s own tissues.

Cinnamon may be useful in this regard, because some studies show that the antioxidants in it have potent anti-inflammatory activity (3).

Bottom Line: The antioxidants in cinnamon have anti-inflammatory effects, which may help lower the risk of disease.

4. Cinnamon May Cut the Risk of Heart Disease

Cinnamon has been linked with reduced risk of heart disease, the world’s most common cause of premature death.

In people with type 2 diabetes, 1 gram of cinnamon per day has beneficial effects on blood markers.

It reduces levels of total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol and triglycerides, while HDL cholesterol remains stable (8).

More recently, a big review study concluded that a cinnamon dose of just 120 milligrams per day can have these effects. In this study, cinnamon also increased HDL (the “good”) cholesterol (9).

In animal studies, cinnamon has been shown to reduce blood pressure (3).

When combined, all these factors may drastically cut the risk of heart disease.

Bottom Line: Cinnamon can improve some key risk factors for heart disease, including cholesterol, triglycerides and blood pressure.

5. Cinnamon Can Improve Sensitivity to The Hormone Insulin

Insulin is one of the key hormones that regulate metabolism and energy use.

Girl Smelling Cup of Coffee

It is also essential for the transport of blood sugar from the bloodstream and into cells.

The problem is that many people are resistant to the effects of insulin.

This condition, known as insulin resistance, is a hallmark of serious conditions like metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes.

Well, the good news is that cinnamon can dramatically reduce insulin resistance, helping this incredibly important hormone to do its job (1011).

By helping insulin do its job, cinnamon can lower blood sugar levels, which brings us to the next point…

Bottom Line: Cinnamon has been shown to significantly increase sensitivity to the hormone insulin.

6. Cinnamon Lowers Blood Sugar Levels and Has a Powerful Anti-Diabetic Effect

Cinnamon is well known for its blood sugar lowering effects.

Apart from the beneficial effects on insulin resistance, cinnamon can lower blood sugar by several other mechanisms.

First, cinnamon has been shown to decrease the amount of glucose that enters the bloodstream after a meal.

It does this by interfering with numerous digestive enzymes, which slows the breakdown of carbohydrates in the digestive tract (1213).

Second, a compound in cinnamon can act on cells by mimicking insulin (1415).

This greatly improves glucose uptake by cells, although it acts much slower than insulin itself.

Numerous human trials have confirmed the anti-diabetic effects of cinnamon, showing that it can lower fasting blood sugar levels by up to 10-29% (161718).

The effective dose is typically 1-6 grams of cinnamon per day (around 0.5-2 teaspoons).

Bottom Line: Cinnamon has been shown to both reduce fasting blood sugar levels, having a potent anti-diabetic effect at 1 to 6 grams per day.

7. Cinnamon May Have Beneficial Effects on Neurodegenerative Diseases

Neurodegenerative diseases are characterized by progressive loss of the structure or function of brain cells.

Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease are two of the most common types.

Two compounds found in cinnamon appear to inhibit the buildup of a protein called tau in the brain, which is one of the hallmarks of Alzheimer’s disease (192021).

In a study looking at mice with Parkinson’s disease, cinnamon helped to protect neurons, normalize neurotransmitter levels and improve motor function (22).

These effects need to be studied further in humans.

Bottom Line: Cinnamon has been shown to lead to various improvements for Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease in animal studies.

8. Cinnamon May Be Protective Against Cancer

Cancer is a serious disease, characterized by uncontrolled growth of cells.

Vintage Cookbook With Cinnamon Sticks

Cinnamon has been widely studied for its potential use in cancer prevention and treatment.

Overall, the evidence is limited to test tube experiments and animal studies, which suggest that cinnamon extracts may protect against cancer (2324252627).

It acts by reducing the growth of cancer cells and the formation of blood vessels in tumors, and appears to be toxic to cancer cells, causing cell death.

A study in mice with colon cancer revealed cinnamon to be a potent activator of detoxifying enzymes in the colon, protecting against further cancer growth (28).

These findings were supported by test tube experiments, which showed that cinnamon activates protective antioxidant responses in human colon cells (29).

Whether cinnamon has any effect in living, breathing humans needs to be confirmed in controlled trials.

Bottom Line: Animal studies and test tube experiments indicate that cinnamon may have protective effects against cancer.

9. Cinnamon Helps Fight Bacterial and Fungal Infections

Cinnamaldehyde, the main active component of cinnamon, may help fight various kinds of infection.

Cinnamon oil has been shown to effectively treat respiratory tract infections caused by fungi.

It can also inhibit the growth of certain bacteria, including Listeria and Salmonella (3031).

The antimicrobial effects of cinnamon may also help prevent tooth decay and reduce bad breath (323334).

Bottom Line: Cinnamaldehyde has antifungal and antibacterial properties, which may reduce infections and help fight tooth decay and bad breath.

122442788

10. Cinnamon May Help Fight The HIV Virus

HIV is a virus that slowly breaks down the immune system, which can eventually lead to AIDS if untreated.

Cinnamon extracted from Cassia varieties is thought to help fight against HIV-1 (3536).

This is the most common strain of the HIV virus in humans.

A laboratory study looking at HIV infected cells found that cinnamon was the most effective treatment of all 69 medicinal plants studied (37).

Human trials are needed to confirm these effects.

Bottom Line: Test tube studies have shown that cinnamon can help fight HIV-1, the main type of HIV virus in humans.

It is Better to Use Ceylon (“True” Cinnamon)

Not all cinnamon is created equal.

The Cassia variety contains significant amounts of a compound called coumarin, which is believed to be harmful in large doses.

All cinnamon should have health benefits, but Cassia may cause problems in large doses due to the coumarin content.

Ceylon (“true” cinnamon) is much better in this regard, and studies show that it ismuch lower in coumarin than the Cassia variety (38).

Unfortunately, most cinnamon found in supermarkets is the cheaper Cassia variety.

You may be able to find Ceylon in some health food stores, and there is a good selection on Amazon.

Take Home Message

At the end of the day, cinnamon is one of the most delicious and healthiest spices on the planet.

It can lower blood sugar levels, reduce heart disease risk factors, and has a plethora of other impressive health benefits.

Just make sure to get Ceylon cinnamon, or stick to small doses (no more than 0.5-2 teaspoons a day) if you’re using the Cassia variety.

Leesa recommends using organic cinnamon!

By Joe Leech, Authority Nutrition.

AuthorityNutrition.com – a site that helps people make informed decisions about their health based on the best scientific evidence available.

Photo credit: Thinkstock

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Would feeling fantastic every day make a difference in your life?  

Healthy Highway is a Healthy Lifestyle Company offering Lifestyle Solutions for a Happy Healthy You!   We help people who are…

  • Wanting Work Life Balance.
  • Needing Stress Relief.
  • Concerned about their health and the environment.
  • Frustrated battling allergies to gluten, foods, dust, chemicals, pollen.
  • Overwhelmed with choosing the best products for their body, home, and office.
  • Unsatisfied with their relationships with the men and women in their life and are ready to transform them into satisfying, happy partnerships.
  • Standing at a Career Crossroad.
  • Preparing to start a family and want a healthy baby.
  • Seeking solutions for aging, more energy, and a good night’s sleep!

Are any of these an issue or problem for you?  Would it make sense for us to spend several minutes together to discuss your needs and how HealthyHighway can meet them? As a Healthy Lifestyle Coach with an emphasis on allergies and wellness, Leesa teaches her clients to make informed choices and enables them to make needed changes for a Happy Healthy Lifestyle. What you eat, what products you use ~ on your body and in your home and office, how you talk to yourself ~ it all matters!

Contact me today and Start today to live a healthier, happier life!  Don’t live in Atlanta?  Not a problem.  We do virtual coaching worldwide!

I look forward to helping YOU Live a Happy Healthy Life!  Remember, Excellent Health is found along your way, not just at your destination.

Live Well!

Leesa A. Wheeler

Leesa A. Wheeler

Healthy Lifestyle Coach, Artisan, Author of two books…
     Melodies from Within ~ Available Now! 
    Available on Amazon, Barnes&Noble, GooglePlay, iTunes

Member International Association for Health Coaches 

ring ~ 770-393-1284

write ~ info@healthyhighway.org

visit ~ www.healthyighway.org

coach, consult, contact ~ www.healthyhighway.org/contact.html

(Don’t live in Atlanta?  Not a problem!  We do virtual coaching worldwide!)

join our mailing list ~ www.healthyhighway.org

chcws ~ www.chews4health.com/Leesa

enjoy ~ www.chewcolat.com

follow ~ www.twitter.com/HealthyHighway

learn   www.healthyhighway.wordpress.com

like ~ www.tinyurl.com/Facebook-HealthyHighway

join ~ www.google.com/+HealthyhighwayOrg

join ~ www.google.com/+LeesaWheeler

link ~ www.linkedin.com/in/leesawheeler

skpe ~ healthyhighway

5 Hidden Food Allergens (That Are More Common Than You Think)

5 Hidden Food Allergens (That Are More Common Than You Think)

 

When it comes to food allergies, U.S. ingredient lists offer a false sense of  security. While eight major foods (milk, eggs, fish and shellfish, tree nuts,  peanuts, wheat, and soy) are estimated to account for 90% of all allergic  reactions, some food additives have become so common that they’re beginning to  account for more and more food allergies.

Many of these don’t need to be clearly labeled at all, and some of them are  simply so difficult to identify that you may not even know what to look for when  reading ingredient lists. Here are four food allergies that are becoming  increasingly common, so much so that you may not be able to protect yourself  from simply by reading food labels.

1. Spices – Spice allergies are estimated to account for  about 2% food allergies — although some allergists believe the  difficulty of diagnosing this condition means the real numbers are higher.  People can react to just about any spice used in cooking, including kitchen  staples like garlic, coriander, cumin, and paprika. Unfortunately, in many  prepared and packaged foods, specific spices aren’t listed as ingredients — and  many restaurants won’t list spices on the menu.

The kitchen isn’t the only place you need to watch out if you have a spice  allergy; many cosmetics, particularly natural cosmetics, use botanical  ingredients which can cause skin reactions as well. In fact, for this reason,  spice allergies are more often seen in women than in men. They often have had  more lifetime exposure to potential allergens.

2. Corn –  No one is sure exactly how many people  suffer from corn allergy, but one study of self-reported reactions estimates it  may be has high as 2%. Corn allergies are notoriously difficult to manage due to  the fact that corn derivatives are used in many packaged foods — and can be labeled with some pretty confusing names. Corn products are also widely used  in prescription and OTC drugs as a filler or binder and are increasingly being  used in biofuels and bioplastics.

3. Seeds – While still not considered a major allergen in the U.S., reactions  to sesame, poppy, sunflower and even mustard seeds are on the rise. Sesame is  actually considered one of the top allergens in several other countries,  including Canada, Israel and parts of Europe. The risk of seed allergies is heightened in people who already have an  existing allergy to tree nuts. Sesame in particular can be found in many  unexpected places, like cosmetics and in many foods.

4. Preservatives – It’s also possible to be allergic to  common preservatives found in packaged foods. Unfortunately, it’s very difficult  to test for reactions to preservatives. Usually the culprit is  identified through a process of elimination — for instance, when the same food  prepared fresh at home causes no problems, but a reaction occurs eating the same  dish from a restaurant. If an allergist can’t identify the specific allergen,  the only solution may be to avoid processed foods entirely. (Even some fresh,  unpackaged foods may be exposed to preservatives to extend their shelf life.)  Current research suggests that about 1% of adults and 2% of children are  allergic to common food preservatives. One class of preservatives, sulfites  (which occur in wine, cured meats, and some dried fruits), is also known to exacerbate  asthma symptoms in some people.

5. Food Coloring – Another increasingly common allergy is to  the dyes used in packaged food. The dyes tartrazine, carmine, annatto, and saffron have all been  reported as causes of severe allergic reactions in some people. Many other food  colorings may also be potential allergens, although the ones I’ve listed are the  most common. Natural food coloring seems to be just as potentially allergenic as artificial dyes.

If you find yourself having unexplained reactions to packaged or prepared  foods (but no issues with food made from scratch), you may have an allergy or  intolerance to one of these common food additives. Talk to your doctor about  testing to uncover which of these common substances may be giving you  trouble.

by

Photo credit: Pink  Sherbet Photography via Flickr

10 Food Swaps to Lower Blood Pressure

10 Food Swaps to Lower Blood Pressure

 

While blood pressure raises and lowers naturally, sustained elevation —  otherwise known as high  blood pressure, or hypertension — can damage your heart, kidneys,  and even brain.

More than 65 million Americans have the condition — caused by  stress, aging, a poor diet, not enough exercise, obesity,  smoking, or  just plain genetics — and which can be managed in part by cutting  back  on sodium, according to the American  Heart Association.

The recommended daily allowance of sodium is no more than 2,300 mg —  about 1  teaspoon of table salt — which adds up fast. These switches —  also good for  those who want to maintain low blood pressure — can help  you cut your salt  intake without sacrificing flavor.

1. Say No to Pre-Packaged Frozen Dinners They’re quick  and easy to prepare, but many frozen meals also pack a   huge sodium punch — as  much as 1,800 mg in one dish, according to MSNBC.com — and many of  them don’t have enough vegetables  to help you meet your  daily  requirements. For fast meals on busy nights,  freeze leftovers or  try make-ahead  casseroles that go from freezer to oven to  table with a  minimum of  effort (like Emeril’s Mexican  Chicken Tortilla version) to make sure  you’re  getting the right  nutrients.

Worst case: Look for low-sodium, organic frozen meals.

2. Trade Salt for Spices, Vinegar, or Fruit Juice Start  by adding fresh or dried herbs and spices — like rosemary, basil,  dill, oregano, hot peppers, thyme — lemon  or lime juice, flavored  vinegars, and garlic in place of salt in your favorite  recipes.

 

 

3. Try Oil and Vinegar For Salads Salads,  sandwiches,  and stir-frys are often healthier than other dinner  options,  but you can  inadvertently add too much sodium by pouring on ketchup,  mustard, soy sauce, and salad  dressings. Try simple olive oil and balsamic  vinegar  on your greens, use fresh  tomatoes on your burger, and look  for low-sodium  versions of other  condiments — or just make sure to  watch your portions (one  tablespoon  of regular ketchup has a whopping  160-190 mg of sodium). Some  companies  do the work for you, though: This  spring, according to the Huffington  Post, Heinz announced that it tweaked  its  classic ketchup recipe to  cut the sodium by 15 percent in response  to new FDA  salt limits.

4. Trade Canned Soup, Broth, and Vegetables For   Homemade Canned goods are notoriously high in sodium — one serving   can have as much as half your daily allowance — so you might be paying  for the  convenience. Soups and broths are easy enough to make yourself once you realize that they  pretty much  require two things — water and time — and you can flavor  them with vegetables,  herbs, and spices for low-cost meals that feed a  crowd. Many companies also  offer low-sodium or no-salt-added versions of  popular soups, broths, and  vegetables (but check the sodium levels on  your frozen  vegetables, too, especially if they come with  seasonings or sauces:  sodium often sneaks into those).

Try canning or freezing your own vegetables during the summer to eat  all  winter.

 

 

5. Avoid the Brine Pickles,  olives, sauerkraut, and just about any  other  vegetables that come in a  brine may not feel unhealthy,  but those  brines were designed to  preserve the food — which means  there’s plenty of sodium floating around. Limit your indulgence in  these  foods, and try your hand at canning  your own pickles from fresh cucumbers to  be sure  you know exactly  how much salt you’re eating.

6. Cut Down on Cured Meats Bacon,  ham, salami, and other cured meats are another  sodium obstacle:  According to the NIH  DASH eating plan, 3 ounces of lean meat, fish, or  poultry contains  between 30 and 90 mg of sodium, while the same amount of  roasted ham contains 1,020 mg. Eat cured meats sparingly and replace  them with fresh chicken, pork,  fish, or even no-salt-added canned tuna. Watch  out for smoked and  processed versions, too — they’ll also increase your sodium  levels.

7. Reach for Unsalted Popcorn Over Salty Snacks It  doesn’t take a dietitian to realize that salty snacks are higher in  sodium than  sweet ones — that’s something your tastebuds can probably  tell you all by  themselves. In a perfect world, you’d replace all those cravings for crackers,   chips, and pretzels with fresh  fruit slices and carrot sticks — but when you just  can’t resist a  snack attack, look for healthier versions, like no-salt popcorn,  low-sodium crackers, or unsalted chips.

8. Substitute Whole Wheat Flour For White Flour Choosing whole  wheat pasta, rice, bread, cereal, and snacks can help  lower blood  pressure in several ways: You’ll be skipping a lot of processed and  salted foods by default (since many of them are made with white flour),  and  they can help you lose weight, which lowers your risk of developing  many  health conditions (including high blood pressure). Make oatmeal, rice, and pasta  without adding salt to the cooking  water, and you could end up with as little  as 5 mg of sodium per  serving. (Leesa recommends The Pure Wraps made from Coconut and Quinoa for those who need to eat Gluten-Free!)

 

 

9. Say No to Buttermilk Buttermilk has more than twice as much sodium as a cup of  its less-flavorful  cousin, low-fat milk, which means you could be adding a lot  more than  just taste to those pancakes. Stick with regular milk and natural  (not  processed) cheese as part of a low-sodium diet, since they also contain   blood-pressure-lowering potassium.

10. Stock Up on Dark Chocolate Okay, here’s  one piece of  good news: Dark  chocolate doesn’t need to go on your list of foods to  avoid, since  some studies have shown that the flavanols it contains can help  lower  blood pressure by helping dilate blood vessels. As with any treat,  you don’t want to eat too much of it — but in small  amounts, it can  have health benefits that go beyond a sugar  rush. (Leesa recommends Vivani 85% Org Dark Chocolate!)

By Blythe Copeland, TreeHugger

 

 

 

10 Food Swaps to Lower Blood Pressure

10 Food Swaps to Lower Blood Pressure

 

While blood pressure raises and lowers naturally, sustained elevation — otherwise known as high blood pressure, or hypertension — can damage your heart, kidneys, and even brain.

More than 65 million Americans have the condition — caused by stress, aging, a poor diet, not enough exercise, obesity, smoking, or just plain genetics — and which can be managed in part by cutting back on sodium, according to the American Heart Association.

The recommended daily allowance of sodium is no more than 2,300 mg — about 1 teaspoon of table salt — which adds up fast. These switches — also good for those who want to maintain low blood pressure — can help you cut your salt intake without sacrificing flavor.

1. Say No to Pre-Packaged Frozen Dinners
They’re quick and easy to prepare, but many frozen meals also pack a huge sodium punch — as much as 1,800 mg in one dish, according to MSNBC.com — and many of them don’t have enough vegetables to help you meet your daily requirements. For fast meals on busy nights, freeze leftovers or try make-ahead casseroles that go from freezer to oven to table with a minimum of effort (like Emeril’s Mexican Chicken Tortilla version) to make sure you’re getting the right nutrients.

Worst case: Look for low-sodium, organic frozen meals.

2. Trade Salt for Spices, Vinegar, or Fruit Juice
Start by adding fresh or dried herbs and spices — like rosemary, basil, dill, oregano, hot peppers, thyme — lemon or lime juice, flavored vinegars, and garlic in place of salt in your favorite recipes.

3. Try Oil and Vinegar For Salads
Salads, sandwiches, and stir-frys are often healthier than other dinner options, but you can inadvertently add too much sodium by pouring on ketchup, mustard, soy sauce, and salad dressings. Try simple olive oil and balsamic vinegar on your greens, use fresh tomatoes on your burger, and look for low-sodium versions of other condiments — or just make sure to watch your portions (one tablespoon of regular ketchup has a whopping 160-190 mg of sodium). Some companies do the work for you, though: This spring, according to the Huffington Post, Heinz announced that it tweaked its classic ketchup recipe to cut the sodium by 15 percent in response to new FDA salt limits.

4. Trade Canned Soup, Broth, and Vegetables For Homemade
Canned goods are notoriously high in sodium — one serving can have as much as half your daily allowance — so you might be paying for the convenience. Soups and broths are easy enough to make yourself once you realize that they pretty much require two things — water and time — and you can flavor them with vegetables, herbs, and spices for low-cost meals that feed a crowd. Many companies also offer low-sodium or no-salt-added versions of popular soups, broths, and vegetables (but check the sodium levels on your frozen vegetables, too, especially if they come with seasonings or sauces: sodium often sneaks into those).

Try canning or freezing your own vegetables during the summer to eat all winter.

5. Avoid the Brine
Pickles, olives, sauerkraut, and just about any other vegetables that come in a brine may not feel unhealthy, but those brines were designed to preserve the food — which means there’s plenty of sodium floating around. Limit your indulgence in these foods, and try your hand at canning your own pickles from fresh cucumbers to be sure you know exactly how much salt you’re eating.

6. Cut Down on Cured Meats
Bacon, ham, salami, and other cured meats are another sodium obstacle: According to the NIH DASH eating plan, 3 ounces of lean meat, fish, or poultry contains between 30 and 90 mg of sodium, while the same amount of roasted ham contains 1,020 mg. Eat cured meats sparingly and replace them with fresh chicken, pork, fish, or even no-salt-added canned tuna. Watch out for smoked and processed versions, too — they’ll also increase your sodium levels.

7. Reach for Unsalted Popcorn Over Salty Snacks
It doesn’t take a dietitian to realize that salty snacks are higher in sodium than sweet ones — that’s something your tastebuds can probably tell you all by themselves. In a perfect world, you’d replace all those cravings for crackers, chips, and pretzels with fresh fruit slices and carrot sticks — but when you just can’t resist a snack attack, look for healthier versions, like no-salt popcorn, low-sodium crackers, or unsalted chips.

8. Substitute Whole Wheat Flour For White Flour
Choosing whole wheat pasta, rice, bread, cereal, and snacks can help lower blood pressure in several ways: You’ll be skipping a lot of processed and salted foods by default (since many of them are made with white flour), and they can help you lose weight, which lowers your risk of developing many health conditions (including high blood pressure). Make oatmeal, rice, and pasta without adding salt to the cooking water, and you could end up with as little as 5 mg of sodium per serving.

9. Say No to Buttermilk
Buttermilk has more than twice as much sodium as a cup of its less-flavorful cousin, low-fat milk, which means you could be adding a lot more than just taste to those pancakes. Stick with regular milk and natural (not processed) cheese as part of a low-sodium diet, since they also contain blood-pressure-lowering potassium.

10. Stock Up on Dark Chocolate
Okay, here’s one piece of good news: Dark chocolate doesn’t need to go on your list of foods to avoid, since some studies have shown that the flavanols it contains can help lower blood pressure by helping dilate blood vessels. As with any treat, you don’t want to eat too much of it — but in small amounts, it can have health benefits that go beyond a sugar rush.

By Blythe Copeland, TreeHuggerPlanet Green is the multi-platform media destination devoted to the environment and dedicated to helping people understand how humans impact the planet and how to live a more environmentally sustainable lifestyle. Its two robust websites, planetgreen.com and TreeHugger.com, offer original, inspiring, and entertaining content related to how we can evolve to live a better, brighter future. Planet Green is a division of Discovery Communications.

Anti-Inflammatory Diet 101

Anti-Inflammatory Diet 101

One year it’s this diet trend, the next year it’s that diet trend. The funny thing is that, aside from the all-celery and 8-grapefruits family of diets, all the smart diets end up saying pretty much the same thing: Eat bushels of fruit and vegetables, whole grains, less animal fat, and cut out refined foods. Genius!

Lately there’s been a flood of diet books based on the anti-inflammatory concept. The gist is that constant or out-of-control inflammation in the body leads to illness, and that eating to avoid constant inflammation inspires better health and can fend off disease. We generally think of inflammation as the painful part of arthritis, but inflammation is also a component of chronic diseases such as heart disease and strokes. Which is why proponents of the diet say it can reduce heart disease risk, keep existing cardiac problems in check, reduce blood triglycerides and blood pressure, and soothe sore and stiff arthritic joints.

Specifics vary from one anti-inflammatory diet to another, but in general, anti-inflammatory diets recommend:

  • Eat plenty and a variety of fruits and vegetables.
  • Eat little saturated and trans fats.
  • Eat omega-3 fatty acids, such as fish or fish oil supplements and walnuts.
  • Limit your intake of refined carbohydrates such as white pasta and white rice.
  • Increase your consumption of whole grains such as brown rice and bulgur wheat.
  • Limit (or quit) your consumption of red meat and full-fat dairy foods, increase lean protein and plant-protein source.
  • Avoid refined foods and processed foods.
  • Generously use anti-inflammatory spices.

By incorporating these herbs and spices into your diet, you get great flavors with healing properties. Researchers from the University of Michigan have found, for example, that basil has anti-inflammatory activity compared to ibuprofen, naproxen, and aspirin!

Top anti-inflammatory herbs and spices:

Ginger
Turmeric
Black Pepper
Cinnamon
Rosemary
Basil
Cardamon
Chives
Cilantro
Cloves
Garlic
Parsley

Ready to tame the inflammation? Try these:
Parsley, garlic, and superfood walnuts: Parsley & Walnut Pesto
Double yummy whammy!: Ginger & Turmeric Tea
The all-star anti-inflammatory round-up: Vegetarian Curry

by Melissa Breyer

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