20 Foods to Fight Stroke and High Blood Pressure

We’ve all heard that reducing sodium intake can help lower blood pressure.  What consumers are less aware of is that dumping the salt in your diet may be only 50% of what you need to do to prevent high blood pressure and stroke risk. The rest of the story has to do with getting enough potassium in your diet. Potassium is found primarily in unprocessed whole foods.  When people eat lots of calories and abundant amounts ofhttp://www.dreamstime.com/-image21312271 unprocessed foods, it is not problematic getting the 4700 mg. recommended intake.  Slash your calories and eat a lot of junky processed food and it becomes much harder to reach your potassium recommendations. In order to slash sodium and boost potassium intake, consider eating more of these stroke and blood pressure fighting foods:

                                                        Potassium (mg)                       Sodium (mg)

One medium potato                                          926                                          17

One cup winter squash                                     896                                            2

One cup low sodium V-8 juice                          820                                        140

½ cup pitted dates                                            584                                            2

One cup low sodium tomato juice                     556                                          24

½ cup spinach                                                  510                                          25

½ cup sweet potato                                          398                                          68

½ cup kidney beans                                          370                                           1

One small banana                                             362                                           0

1/3 avocado                                                       356                                          2

½ cup prune juice                                              353                                          5

½ cup uncooked oatmeal                                  335                                           2

1.5 oz. box raisins                                             322                                           5

3 oz. cooked beef or chicken                            290                                          47

½ cup cooked broccoli                                      278                                          29

One cup raw sliced mangos                              257                                           3

¼ cup wheat germ                                             256                                           3

½ cup any melon                                               242                                          27

½ cup orange juice                                            240                                            1

½ cup apricot halves                                         233                                            1

Choosing more of these foods will both slash your sodium while boosting your potassium, to boost your chances of steering clear of stroke and high blood pressure!


Restaurant Dining: A Hit to Your Health and Wallet

Couple DiningMy spouse and I are health conscious because I am a dietitian and not a hypocrite, and his life depends upon it.  We regularly visit an area of southwest Michigan, and recently had breakfast at a local diner with great TripAdvisor reviews.  Unfortunately, we did not agree with the great reviews on TripAdvisor.  The menu was limited, but I will be the first to state that this is not necessarily a bad thing because the focus may end up being on quality, rather than an abundance of mediocre dishes.  The good news here was the staff was more than happy to substitute egg whites for whole eggs, but that is probably where the positive aspects of the meal ended.

Now the bad news:  the nice multi-grain bread was already buttered on the bottom of the toast (so did not realize it until it was eaten), the portions were huge (I know many people want large portions for the money being doled out), and I saw no fruit options on the menu.  Other bad news: the bill was $30.00 for what we could have made at home for probably a dollar at most, and made it a lot healthier in a short amount of time.  This is, in fact, the key issue with dining out on a regular basis.

When my clients dine out on a regular basis, this is what I tell them to expect:

More Fat.  If you make the same food at home, you can control the fat in the dish with very simple recipe tweaking.  Restaurants don’t typically care about the fat content in their meals because fat carries flavor and texture in food and of course, they want you to return for another meal! You can bank on eating more calories than you anticipated due to the higher fat content, and you can also assume that it will be more difficult to meet your weight loss goals.

More Calories.  And, let’s not forget the simple concept that larger portions, when eaten, yield more calories.  Unless you can exercise a lot of self-discipline while dining out, you will most likely eat your whole meal.  If you can consistently ask for healthy substitutions such as fruit for fries, you are on the right track.  Also, you need to get in the habit of bringing at least half of your meal home. And who doesn’t want that yummy appetizer, dessert, or cocktail while dining out?  It is probably safe to say that if you are eating at home vs. dining out, you probably are not having an appetizer, cocktail, and dessert with your main meal!

More Sodium.  If you are fortunate to find a nice restaurant meal low in fat and overall calories, the sodium is probably lurking.  I have yet to see a healthy restaurant meal that is low in fat, saturated fat, cholesterol, calories, and sodium.  If you think the sodium content does not matter because your blood pressure is fine, you need to think again.   High sodium intakes cause other health problems such as bone loss and are correlated with increased cancer risk.  And, if you hop on the scale the next day, you can credit that weight gain of several pounds to fluid retention from all that salt you ate.

More Money.  As my husband made a lower sodium chili on Sunday, he proudly pointed out to me that the entire pot of chili probably cost less than a few dollars.  Had a bowl of chili been purchased at a full service restaurant, it would have been at least $6.00 dollars.  He also used only half a packet of low sodium chili powder and added additional beans, and veggies creating a lower sodium, but healthier higher fiber dish.

So, while eating out is social and recreational for many, having the mentality that it should be a treat for special occasions rather than your regular diet, can keep you healthier, slim you down, and fatten your wallet.  In fact, it is a win-win way to eat.

Checking out online menus and nutrition information is key to healthier dining options.

Do you have any strategies for managing your calories, fat, and sodium while dining out?


Guest Blog: How to Vacation Without Putting on the Pounds

suitcasesVacations are a time to relax and forget about everyday stresses. For those who are working on losing weight and living healthy, vacations are riddled with challenges. Temptations are common on vacations, and sticking to your daily caloric intake can be difficult. However, there are some simple steps vacationers can take to ease these common travel challenges. Here are a few tips:

Avoid Air Travel Temptations.  Before leaving for the airport, many travelers forget to eat.  As a result, travelers often pick up snacks at the airport or eat food on the airplane. By setting aside time to eat a meal before heading to the airport, it is possible to avoid these temptations. In addition, healthy high fiber snacks can often help alleviate hunger on long flights. It should be noted, however, that most airports now have healthy options for travelers. The key issue is to be mindful of those healthier options and then keep your health goals in mind as you select your airport food.

Be Careful in Hotels.  Hotels often make it easy to sabotage your diet. Vacationers are encouraged to avoid minibars at all costs; minibars are filled with unhealthy options, and travelers can avoid both excess calories and expense by avoiding them. One option to consider is planning a trip to a local grocery store to purchase some basic foods to assemble meals.  Simple meals can be assembled in a small crock pot or other appliance. Even a healthy frozen dinner can be zapped in a microwave if available, and this option will be lower in both sodium and calories  than most restaurant foods.  A sandwich made with whole grain bread filled with some lean meat and accompanied by fresh fruit is also a calorie conscious meal option while on vacation.

Prepare for Restaurants. Dining out is an essential and pleasant aspect of vacations, and travelers want to ensure that they take advantage of local cuisine. Before leaving for a restaurant, however, it may be wise to find the menu online and determine what you want to order beforehand. In addition, reading reviews of local restaurants from other travelers in the area can help you to find a healthy restaurant even if you are staying in a geographical area with plenty of buffets.  Being aware of menu “watch” words is also very important.  Avoiding foods labeled as battered, bottomless, or buttered can help your waistline. Fortunately, many restaurants now list how many calories are contained in particular meals, and online information can help as well. Choosing meals with fewer calories does not mean that you are missing out on local flavor, and those who do some research can enjoy dining out without having to worry about eating too many calories.

Vacations are essential for both mental and physical health, but those looking to eat well to stay healthy will need to prepare. Fortunately, vacationers now have a number of tools to help them along the way, and travel does not have to mean that extra weight will follow you home.

How do you eat smart while traveling?

Cole Millen is an avid traveler and self-described “foodie” who never forgets that life’s best memories are made through real life apprehension of legitimate “experiences.”