Monday, August 2, 2010

HighBlood Pressure Recipe: Low Sodium Pesto

Just came across this gem of a recipe for pesto sauce, one of my favorite foods on the planet! If you have never tried this aromatic blend of herbs, oils and nuts, I would strongly recommend that you do! Try this heart healthy spread on tortilla chips (sodium free preferred) for a surprisingly delectable flavor combination. This also works well on toast, crackers or even chicken or pasta. Here's some interesting nutritional info: Basil is an herb loaded with vitamins and minerals such as iron, calcium and vitamins A and K. It also contains antioxidants and volatile oils and has antibacterial properties (who knew?) Pine nuts offer cardiovascular protection as well as antioxidant benefits. Since they tend to be expensive, I would store the nuts in the freezer to keep them fresher longer to avoid waste.

Here's what you'll need:

2 cups fresh basil leaves

1/4 cup pine nuts

1/4 cup olive oil

3 cloves garlic, chopped finely or pressed

1/2 cup grated Parmesan or Romano cheese

Place basil, nuts, oil and garlic in blender or food processor. Process on high until a spreadable consistency is reached. Scrape down side of bowl.

Stir cheese into mixture.

Store refrigerated up to 2 weeks.

Makes 24 servings (1 tablespoon per serving)

Tip: You can freeze remaining pesto in ice cube trays. Once frozen, remove them from the trays and store them frozen in food storage bags.

Enjoy! Here's proof that keeping your blood pressure under control and your heart healthy does not automatically mean depriving yourself of good food!

Helpful High Blood Pressure Recipe: Beans

We've all heard it before: "Beans, beans, good for the heart..." you might know the rest. It turns out that beans actually are good for the heart. The fiber from the beans binds with the bad cholesterol in your body and flushes it out of your system! This will help to prevent dangerous plaque from forming inside your blood vessels. Also, the darker the bean, the higher the antioxidant activity and the antioxidants protect your cells from damage. Here is a simply delicious recipe that you can use to help keep your blood pressure under control and your heart healthy...

What you'll need:

2 cups rinsed, sorted, dry pinto beans

1 medium sized onion (chopped)

1/2 tsp of dried rosemary leaves

1/4 tsp black pepper

1/2 tsp Lawry's seasoning/salt to taste (optional)

1-2 medium slices of turkey leg or 3 slices of turkey bacon or a medium sized slice of low fat Canadian bacon.


Add rinsed beans to a medium - large sized pot. Bring beans to a vigorous boil for 2-3 minutes. Turn of beans and let stand for 1 hour.

After time has elapsed, add more water (add twice as much water as beans). Add the chopped onion, rosemary, black pepper and turkey leg or bacon. Let boil for another 2 hours or until beans become tender. Do not stir too much, just enough to make sure beans don't stick to the pot. Add the seasoning salt last (optional). Enjoy!

Try to eat a serving of beans at least twice a week for optimal heart health benefits. If gas becomes a problem, eat them before bed or take a supplement to prevent gas before it starts. Before long, your body should adjust.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Creative Ways to Avoid Stress

Believe it or not, small doses of stress is actually useful. In an emergency situation, your body's stress response may save your life. It is prolonged stress that is the real enemy. This is because when your pulse rate and blood pressure stays high, elevated levels of cholesterol, fats, sugars, hormones and other chemicals meant for short bursts of activity linger in the blood, eventually damaging important body organs. Because of the reasons mentioned, stress management can become a very useful habit. Here are some creative ways to combat stress:

Paint a room (or rooms) in your home a favorite color. Studies show that colours such as green and blue are the most calming and the color yellow evokes feelings of happiness and well-being.

This might be a 'no-brainer', but recharge your body with adequate rest and exercise, even walking and enjoying the sights works well.

Make 'quiet time' a priority. Set aside time to read a book, cook, crochet, sew or engage in some other hobby you find relaxing.

Have a sense of humor! Laughing reduces stress because when we laugh, the body produces endorphins and suppresses the production of adrenaline. Watch a funny movie and laugh the stress away!

Be a good communicator and treat people respectfully. Put aside the need to be a perfectionist or to expect it from others. Try to not do everything by yourself but 'talk it out' to a trusted friend or friends within your social network.

For some, having a pet brings a great deal of comfort and studies show, actually reduces stress. Even watching fish swim in a bowl or in a fish tank is surprisingly, very soothing.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

What is High Blood Pressure or Hypertension?

High blood pressure or hypertension is, simply put, a condition where the blood circulates through the arteries with too much force. Blood pressure is usually written as systolic over diastolic (eg. 120/80). This pressure is greatest when the ventricles of the heart contract (systolic pressure). This forces the blood into the arterial system. Pressure falls to its lowest level when the heart fills with blood (diastolic pressure). Over time, the increased force of blood pumping against the blood vessels causes them to become harder and narrower. This places excess stress on the heart, causing it to work harder than it should. Lowering blood pressure may prevent permanent changes to the blood vessels and heart.

Signs and Symptoms of High Blood Pressure

High blood pressure is often referred to as the 'silent killer' because most people with high blood pressure feel fine and find out about the condition only after a routine check-up at the doctor's office. Unfortunately, some learn that they have high blood pressure only after damage has already been done to vital organs such as the heart, kidneys or eyes. Very severe high blood pressure (160 over 100 or higher) may lead to a medical emergency. Symptoms of severe high blood pressure include:

  • Pulsating headaches behind the eyes (especially in the morning)

  • Vision problems

  • Nausea and vomiting

Eventually high blood pressure can lead to chest pain, heart attack/heart disease, stroke, kidney failure, arterial disease, eye damage or abnormal heartbeat. As mentioned earlier, because high blood pressure may go undetected for years, it is very important to know your blood pressure numbers even if you feel fine. If your blood pressure is normal, you can learn how to keep it that way! If your numbers are too high, there are steps you can take right now to lower them and control your blood pressure. This will greatly reduce your risk for complications.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

10 Ways to Keep Your Blood Pressure in Check!

Since diet is extremely important in controlling your high blood pressure, here are 10 tips to get you started. If you can make just 5 of these changes, your are well on your way for optimum control!

You can do it!

  1. Substitute low-fat/low-sodium turkey bacon for regular bacon. You may have to experiment with the different brands to find the one you like. Keep all the flavour, lose some of the fat!

  2. Replace vegetable/corn oil or lard with healthier choices like heart healthy olive and canola oils.

  3. Get into the habit of tasting your food before automatically adding salt. Your sense of taste will adjust to less sodium and you'll notice the flavour of herbs and spices more.

  4. Get into the habit of reading food labels. Be aware of "hidden" salts in prepared foods, ie. ketchup, salad dressings, etc. Always opt for lower sodium foods if available.

  5. Omit all soft drinks (including "diet" soft drinks) from your meal plan. Replace with fresh lemon juice/water blend (serve chilled) or simply add sodium free seltzer water to some juice for that familiar 'zing'.

  6. Keep fresh or dried fruits, yogurt, or berries handy to satisfy those sweet tooth cravings.

  7. Freeze a combination of grapes, strawberries, blueberries and watermelon chunks and eat as a delicious frozen treat.

  8. Replace full fat milk with 1% for your breakfast cereals, baking, etc.

  9. If you must buy prepared foods, choose "lean" "diet" "low sodium" brands and the like. Better yet, cook ahead and freeze your food for the days you just don't feel like cooking.

  10. Try to add some heart healthy olive oil to your foods daily. Drizzle some on your salad or drizzle over toasted pita bread. Get creative with it, your heart will thank you!

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Our Story...

About 4 years ago, my husband started to complain about dizzying headaches on and off and about 'just not feeling well'. The headaches were so severe that he would have to lie down.

Naturally, I became very worried as my husband, although young, is a type 1 diabetic. One day my husband decided to drive himself to the hospital on the way to work. After the nurse took my husband's blood pressure, she quietly left the room and emerged again with a stretcher!

My husband's blood pressure was around 125/140! After talking with the doctor, my husband was told that he would have to be on blood pressure medication for life and that his blood pressure was not 'diet related' and therefore could not be controlled by his diet.

Disappointed, he reluctantly filled his prescription. We soon discovered that his medication may as well have been a tranquilizer, because although it worked, he was sleeping more than usual.

Even though the doctor said that they could adjust his medications, we decided not to refill after the drugs were finished. I immediately started to research natural ways to control high blood pressure and came up with a plan, literally!

Of course not just my husband, but the whole family (including our young sons and baby) started to follow it and within 2 weeks my husband's blood pressure was normal.

To our delight, the plan worked! I had always felt in my gut that the public in general should at least have a choice when it comes to choosing drugs over nature.