by Allyson Boykin, Exercise Physiologist
Many Americans are at a constant battle with maintaining a healthy weight and getting/keeping their blood pressure within the normal range; 120/80 and under is ideal. What many people do not realize is that their blood pressure can be heavily affected by their weight, fitness level, and overall lifestyle. Commonly weight loss is viewed as cosmetic, but in reality being overweight/obese is a health HAZARD and should be taken very seriously.
Millions of Americans live with undiagnosed hypertension, cardiovascular disease, and type 2 diabetes. All of these illnesses can be deadly, especially when they go overlooked and untreated for a long period of time. The good news is that these health issues CAN be fixed or at least put under control with the right diagnosis, sometimes medication, and most importantly a diet/lifestyle alteration.
The DASH diet is a wonderful remedy for improving one’s blood pressure and also helping get them to a healthy weight. DASH, which stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension, has proven to help lower an individual’s blood pressure in as little as 2 weeks when followed properly. This claim is especially aimed toward individuals with pre-hypertension and blood pressure that is moderately high. Not only does DASH help with lowering one’s blood pressure, it also is easy to follow, designed for families, helps to lower cholesterol levels, and it lowers the risk of many other common diseases.
DASH is a plan based around eating low sodium, high fiber, low fat/fat-free dairy foods, and it incorporates a variety of fruits, vegetables, and grains into the every day diet. DASH also emphasizes portion control, variation of nutrients in one’s daily diet, and focuses primarily on increasing the consumption of calcium, magnesium, and potassium.
This particular diet is so widely used that it actually has its own website (dashdiet.org) and there are also a couple of books available for purchase in various stores/websites. The books include meal plans, DASH diet recipes, shopping lists, and tips/advice directed toward DASH diet guidelines and for helping individual’s get on track with their health. Below is an example of the DASH diet’s guidelines for individual’s whom are on around a 1600 calories per day diet. Visit the site and/or purchase a book to get more detailed information and additional guidelines for lower/higher calorie diets.
Sodium- 2300mg or less
Number of servings per day (1600 calories per day diet):
Low fat/fat free dairy- 2-4
LEAN meat, fish, and poultry-1.5-2.5
Nuts, Seeds, and legumes-3-6 PER WEEK
* One’s daily calorie allowance should be divided up according to above recommendations*
Recipe: Pasta with Grilled Chicken, White Beans, and Mushrooms
[From the Mayo Clinic website: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/healthy-recipes/NU00525]
Dietitian’s tip: White beans get their name from their light color. You can use any variety in this recipe, including marrow beans, Great Northern beans or navy beans. White beans are a good source of many nutrients, including iron, folate, magnesium, phosphorus and potassium.
- 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, each 4 ounces
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1/2 cup chopped white onion
- 1 cup sliced mushrooms
- 1 cup white beans, cooked
- 2 tablespoons chopped garlic
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
- 12 ounces uncooked rotelle pasta
- 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
- Ground black pepper, to taste
Prepare a hot fire in a charcoal grill or heat a gas grill or broiler. Away from the heat source, lightly coat the grill rack or broiler pan with cooking spray. Position the cooking rack 4 to 6 inches from the heat source.
Grill or broil the chicken until browned and just cooked through, about 5 minutes each side. Transfer the chicken to a cutting board and let rest 5 minutes before slicing into strips.
In a large, nonstick frying pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions and mushrooms and sauté until tender, about 5 minutes. Stir in the white beans, garlic, basil and grilled chicken strips. Keep warm.
Fill a large pot 3/4 full with water and bring to a boil. Add the pasta and cook until al dente (tender), 10 to 12 minutes, or according to the package directions. Drain the pasta thoroughly.
Return the pasta to the pot and add the chicken mixture. Toss to mix evenly.
Divide the pasta among the plates. Garnish each with 1 tablespoon Parmesan cheese and black pepper. Serve immediately.
Nutritional analysis per serving
|Total fat||7 g||Total carbohydrate||58 g|
|Saturated fat||2 g||Dietary fiber||5 g|
|Monounsaturated fat||3 g||Protein||28 g|
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