Close to three-quarters of adult Americans are overweight and over a third are obese. One in every three adult Americans has high blood pressure, putting them at a higher risk for heart disease and stroke. There are countless diet plans, exercise regimes, and miracle drugs available promising to help you lower blood pressure and weight. But, even exercise and medications can be undermined by poor eating habits. What it really comes down to is healthy eating and a low sodium diet.
Healthy eating begins with learning about proper nutrition, which will help you feel better physically and emotionally, have more energy, and just be healthier overall. Once you learn some basics, you can maintain a healthy diet while still enjoying the food you eat. There are many tools available to count calories or to give you an idea of how much to eat of what foods. But they don't necessarily help you to understand the concepts of basic nutrition.
Here are 4 easy tips for healthy eating and a low sodium diet:
1. Remember the rainbow
Fruits and vegetables are the cornerstone of a healthy diet. They have essential enzymes, vitamins, fiber, and antioxidants you just can't get from supplement pills. And what's great is that they're color coded.
Just about all fruits and vegetables help to lower blood pressure, fight all types of cancer, bad cholesterol, and harmful free-radicals.
Orange and yellow fruits and vegetables also promote healthy joints, alkaline balance, and healthy bones.
Green fruits and vegetables also reduce the risk of cancer and support the digestive system, vision, and the immune system.
Blue and purple fruits and vegetables fight inflammation, and various forms of cancer. They also support vision, the immune system, digestion, and aid in the absorption of calcium and other minerals.
White fruits and vegetables are powerful immune system boosters and fight colon, breast, and hormone-related cancers.
Always try to eat fresh fruits and vegetables and it is best not to add artificial sweeteners, try stevia or a little honey to your fruit. if you need to, and to use salt substitutes, salt alternatives like fresh lemons, or salt free seasonings on your vegetables instead of salt even sea salt because of the sodium.
2. The protein perception
While protein is important, many of us eat more than we need. It is suggested that protein should make up only 10% to 35% of a diet. This averages out to look like about 1/3 of your plate (about the size of the palm of your hand) and the remaining part of your plate should be about 2/3 vegetables accented with some fruits, nuts and oils.
We also eat too much processed meat which is high in sodium. While fresh, lean meats are a good source of protein, there are great alternatives such as eggs, beans, nuts, and tofu.
3. Healthy fats do exist
There are two main types of healthier fats: Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats are actually needed for skin, nails, hair, heart, and brain health. Sources of monounsaturated fat are plant oils, nuts, seeds, and avocados. Polyunsaturated fats, including the Omega-3s, are in fish, walnuts, and sunflower, avocado, corn, soybean, and flaxseed oil. Note: Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats are typically liquid at room temperature and when chilled.
Nuts and seeds can be a great healthy snack, (definitely a healthier choice than potato chips) just watch out for and avoid the added salt.
4. Everything in moderation (including moderation)
Forbidding yourself eating certain foods that you love is just setting yourself up to fail. Instead, work toward eating them less often or as an occasional indulgence. And, you know what? Occasional indulgences are a good thing and will actually help you stick with better eating habits. Just be sure to keep them occasional for long term success.
About 75% of people who have a heart attack, stroke, and/or chronic heart failure have high blood pressure. With healthy eating and a including a low sodium diet you can achieve and maintain lower blood pressure.