Blood Pressure and Heart Health

Reduce Blood Pressure and Promote Heart Health 

Eat 3 tablespoons of flaxseed meal daily.

Sprinkle it on sautéed vegetables, salads, and whole grains. Consuming flaxseed in a variety of foods was linked to a reduction blood pressure when eaten daily over six months. Flaxseed’s alpha linolenic acid, lignans, peptides and fiber reduce blood pressure.

Use good quality olive oil.

as your primary cooking and garnishing oil. Spanish researchers compared a diet of polyphenol-rich olive oil to a diet that didn't contain any polyphenols and their effects on

blood pressure over a period of four months. The results: The polyphenol-rich olive oil was linked with drops in systolic and diastolic blood pressure—especially among women with higher blood pressure to start.

Reduce consumption of saturated fat.

Try to cut out most dairy. Unsweetened yoghurt is ok 3 times weekly. Limit intake of coconut products to 3 times weekly. Whenever possible, avoid pork products, lunch meat, and beef/venison/beefalo. The peptides that are produced when digesting saturated fat are known to increase blood pressure.

Reduce consumption of nuts and nut butters.

Again, these protein sources are high in saturated fat and can aggravate rising blood pressure. Pistachios seem to be ok on occasion.

Limit sodium intake.

Please read labels on packaged food. If a food product contains more than 50 mg of sodium per serving, try to avoid it. Stop sprinkling salt on your food before you eat it and enjoy its natural taste.

Eat more beets!

A 2013 study in Nutrition Journal observed a reduction in systolic blood pressure six hours after participants drank beet juice, especially among the men. Beets naturally contain nitrates, which ease blood pressure.

Enjoy foods high in potassium.

Consuming more than a cup of pomegranate juice every day for four weeks was linked to a drop blood pressure (study published in Plant Foods for Human Nutrition). Other potassium-rich foods include bananas and potatoes.

Focus on omega-3 fatty acids.

If you aren’t doing so already, take a fish oil supplement. I recommend Nordic Naturals. Include salmon in your diet weekly and enjoy eggs daily or every other day.

Enjoy magnesium-rich foods.

These are known to lower blood pressure and are delicious, too! Choose chard, kale, avocados, pumpkin seeds, black beans, and quinoa.

Drink herbal tea.

A blend of linden flowers, hawthorn berries, motherwort flowers and hibiscus flowers promotes heart health due to the high anthocyanin and polyphenol content of these plants. Add a bit of raw honey to sweeten the tea.

Practice deep breathing.

Calming the nervous system has a proven effect on reducing blood pressure. Try this: breathe in for 4 counts, hold for 2, breathe out for 4, hold for 2. Repeat this cycle 3 times.

Get cardio-vascular exercise.

Two or three times weekly, try to walk uphill or ride a bicycle at a rate vigorous enough to feel your heart pounding. Do this for at least 10 minutes. Slow down, then resume the vigorous rate for 10 more minutes. Remember to stretch a bit before and after exercising.

rawpixel-603012-unsplash.jpg

Get Your B Vitamins!

Many kinds of B vitamins are important to human health: thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, folate, biotin, pantothenic acid, Vitamin B6, and Vitamin B12. Each of the B vitamins has a unique and essential function:

Vitamins B6, B12, and folate: red blood cell production and nervous system health

Biotin and pantothenic acid: healthy metabolism

Niacin and thiamin: cardiovascular health and energy production

Riboflavin: production of skin cells, nails, and hair

The B vitamins are necessary cofactors in an essential cellular process called the methylation cycle. In this cycle, all three B vitamins are used to convert a potentially damaging molecule called homocysteine into the useful amino acid cysteine. When levels of these B vitamins are low, blood levels of homocysteine rise—a situation that has been shown in numerous studies to significantly increase the risk for heart disease and Alzheimer's disease.

Luckily, homocysteine levels can be kept in balance by eating a diet high in the following foods.

Whole Grains (high in B6 and B12): brown rice, oats, kasha (toasted buckwheat groats)

Vegetables (high in folate): spinach (also contains B6), parsley, broccoli (also contains niacin & riboflavin), kale (also contains niacin & riboflavin), beets, turnip and mustard greens (also contain B6), asparagus, romaine lettuce, bell peppers (also contain B6)

Fruit (high in B6): banana, mango, avocado (also contains pantothenic acid)

Legumes (high in folate and niacin): all lentils, green peas

Nuts / Seeds (high in B6, B12, folate and niacin): almonds, walnuts, sunflower seeds

Animal Protein (high in folate, B6 and B12): beef, chicken / beef liver (also contains biotin), chicken (also contains niacin & riboflavin), pastured eggs (also contain biotin, niacin & riboflavin), wild salmon (also contains riboflavin)

Be sure to include food sources of B vitamins all year round! Some of us may need supplementation of specific B vitamins. If you would like to learn about ways to tailor your dietary needs to your personal constitution, please schedule a nutritional consultation here.

stephanie-studer-507128-unsplash.jpg

Firey Cider

I first read about fire cider in Rosemary Gladstar’s book, Herbal Recipes For Vibrant Health.

Since this recipe has generated much controversy Recently, I am inspired by friend and herbalist Sandra Lory to call it "firey cider".

Regardless of recipe variations, this healing brew needs to be free for all to prepare and enjoy!

Its antimicrobial benefits are vast. Take a few spoonfuls of it when you feel cold or flu symptoms coming on. Use it during acute infection to treat the cold or flu, and enjoy it as a salad dressing if you like. Be well and stay healthy with food as medicine.

rawpixel-735373-unsplash.jpg

Firey Cider

Please try to choose organic ingredients whenever possible.

You will need:

  • ½ cup diced ginger root

  • ½ cup diced turmeric root or 2 tablespoons turmeric power

  • ½ cup onion, chopped

  • ¼ cup minced or crushed garlic

  • 2 jalapeno peppers, chopped

  • Zest and juice from 2 lemons

  • Raw apple cider vinegar

  • Raw honey to taste

  • Sprigs of fresh rosemary or thyme

  • ½ teaspoon black peppercorns

Add the ginger, onion, garlic, jalapeno and lemon juice/zest to a quart-sized jar. Pack them down lightly so that the jar is about three quarters full.

Use a fermenting weight to hold down the veggies/roots, or place heavy roots at the top so that they will weigh down the herbs (which float).

Pour a generous amount apple cider vinegar over the everything. 

Cover jar with waxed paper to prevent corrosion, screw on the metal lid, and place in a bowl on top of the fridge for at least two weeks. Be sure to shake it once a day!

When the cider is ready, shake well once again and then strain the roots/veggies using fine mesh sieve. Add honey to taste and store in the fridge.

Feel free to cook the strained veggies in a stir fry.

Defining a Healthy, Resilient Food System

Health is a changing state of balance.

A healthy food system is a living network, non-hierarchical and springing from mutual agreements to cultivate health, diversity, equity, and economic balance.

Because everyone must eat to live, it must adapt to environmental, social, and political changes while stewarding the well-being of land, workers, production, and eaters. This food system is grounded in gastronomic traditions, small-scale farming practices, and the need to provide for future generations. 

Its respect for diversity of people, eco-systems, and choices ensures the best practices for cultivation and production in accordance with local need and capacity.

Connected enough to sustain local bio-diversity, cultural identity, nourishment, and sense of purpose, this system provides equal access to whole, contaminant-free ingredients.

When change occurs, the community-minded system, where everyone has a voice, can collaborate to make decisions based on the health of people and planet. 

timothy-eberly-311456-unsplash.jpg

How does the media define a healthy, resilient food system?

Mother Earth News shapes its definition around goals:

  1. Focus on community empowerment to grow food and seek out natural remedies to heal friends and family;

  2. Promote research in the field of agro-ecology in order to influence congressional farm policy;

  3. Sell publications and subscriptions to educate privileged members of the food system about gardening, natural health, and consumption.

Through their primary strategy of publishing research and education, this media outlet works to catalyze change among its readers.

I will be working to shape this definition for the Northeast bio-region during the upcoming Food Solutions New England Summit.

How do you define a healthy food system?

Please leave your comments here.