Avocado Benefits for high blood pressure

Avocados are notably high in calories but are also highly regarded for their high content of monounsaturated fats and potassium thus making it one of the most beneficial foods for combating high blood pressure.

Avocado halves

Blood pressure is the measure of the force of blood pushing against the walls of the arteries. The heart pumps blood into the arteries, which is the transportation highway responsible for distributing blood throughout the body. Blood pressure comprises of two numbers: Systolic, the first and higher of the two reflects pressure in the arteries when the heart beats and they are filled with blood, diastolic, the second number, measures the pressure in the arteries when the heart is at rests between beats. A normal blood pressure reading varies from 90/60 at birth to 120/80 in a healthy adult. For seniors age 6o and older a reading of 150/90 is an indication of high blood pressure (hypertension). It’s important to note that a reading slightly higher than 120/80 in young adults indicates a risk of developing pre-hypertension.

Having untreated high blood pressure makes the heart work harder and contributes to hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis). This in turn can lead to stroke, kidney disease, and to the development of heart disease. “Having high blood pressure puts you at risk of heart disease and stroke, which are leading causes of death in the United States. About 75 million American adults (32%) have high blood pressure—that’s 1 in every 3 adults. About 1 in 3 American adults has prehypertension” 1  A diet low in salt and high in vegetables, fruits and low-fat dairy products can help lower blood pressure.  Highly valued for its blood pressure combating properties within the fruit family is the Avocado (aka. alligator pear) a fruit of the avocado tree native to the Western hemisphere.

Avocados are reputed to be high in fats, but since they are a plant food, the fat they contain is therefore considered an oil and not a solid fat. However it’s important to note that the majority of fat (77%) in the fruit is oleic acid, a monounsaturated fatty acid. There is conclusive scientific evidence which points to the fact that diets rich in monounsaturated fats are great for improving your cholesterol and reducing inflammation thereby reducing the risks of heart problems and strokes. In fact “The American Heart Association recommends the consumption of MUFAs (monounsaturated fats) to improve your blood lipid profile.” “(Lipid profile or lipid panel is a panel of blood tests that serves as an initial broad medical screening tool for abnormalities in lipids, such as cholesterol and triglycerides.)” 2

Along with monounsaturated fats avocados are extremely rich in potassium (more so than bananas – Half a medium avocado contains 549 mg potassium, one medium banana provides 451 mg.). A diet rich in potassium helps regulate your heart beat, eases tension in your blood vessel walls, keeps muscles and nerves functioning efficiently, and lowers blood pressure by balancing out the effects of sodium on your system. The more potassium you eat, the more sodium is lost through urination. A high potassium diet can reduce systolic blood pressure 4.4 mm Hg and diastolic pressure 2.5 mm Hg.

Avocado oil

To those who are averse to eating the avocado fruit the oil derived from it is a reliable alternative. A study done on lab animals and published by “Journal of Ethnopharmacology.” concluded that ”a diet rich in avocado oils, altered levels of essential fatty acids in kidneys, resulting in changes in the way the kidneys respond to hormones that regulate blood pressure.” A tablespoon of avocado oil contains approximately 124 calories and 14 grams of fat (21 percent of the recommended daily fat intake), 9.9 of the 14 grams are monounsaturated healthy fat which lowers LDL ((Low Density Lipoprotein)  ) cholesterol, while increasing HDL (High Density Lipoprotein)  and 1.9 grams are polyunsaturated fat which lowers LDL and HDL. Avocados contain no cholesterol or trans-fat and are richer in vitamin E than any other fruit. The fats of the avocado are also resistant to heat-induced oxidation thus offering an excellent substitute for vegetable, canola oils and similar saturated or trans-fat products.

While extolling the avocado health benefits it is important to keep in mind that the fruit is high in calories (a cup of avocado slices contain approximately 234 calories) so the quantity being consumed must be taken into consideration. Also due to its high potassium content, persons with kidney related problems need to be extra careful in its use. Consult your healthcare professional to know if a diet supplemented with avocado is good for you.

References:

Avocado Recipes to Reduce Blood Pressure and Lower Cholesterol

http://www.livestrong.com/article/532083-do-avocados-lower-blood-pressure/

http://www.webmd.com/hypertension-high-blood-pressure/guide/blood-pressure-causes#1

 

1, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Health Statistics)

2, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lipid_profile

 

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10 Foods High in Omega-3s

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Fish Naturally fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, herring, lake trout, sardines, and albacore tuna are good sources of omega-3 fatty acids. These are “good” fats that help keep your heart healthy. They may also help keep your brain sharp, especially … Continue reading

Hold the Salt, Please

Low-Salt Diets: Eating Out

For many people, eating out is something they do to relax and socialize. You don’t have to give this up when you are on a low-sodium diet, but it is important to be more careful about what you order in a restaurant. Sodium is not just in table salt. You can also find it in sodium citrate, sodium bicarbonate (baking soda), and monosodium glutamate (MSG). Asian foods often have MSG as well as soy sauce, which is also very salty. But with some planning and helpful tips, you can still enjoy eating out while limiting the sodium in your diet.

Key points

  • Restaurant foods are usually high in sodium.
  • Most restaurants are willing to prepare your food with less or no sodium, if you ask.
  • Food can still taste good and be low in sodium.

What is a low-sodium diet?

If you are on a low-sodium diet, you need to limit your intake of salt and other forms of sodium in the food you eat. Depending on your condition, your doctor will probably limit your sodium to less than 2,000 milligrams (mg) a day. This can be challenging for people who like to eat out, because processed foods, including restaurant food, are often the biggest source of sodium in our diets.

Why is it important to limit sodium when eating out?

Sodium causes your body to hold extra water. This can make certain conditions, such as heart failure or kidney disease, worse. For example, if you have heart failure, too much sodium makes it harder for your already weakened heart to pump and can lead to sudden heart failure. Fluid may build up in your lungs-making it harder for you to breathe-and in your feet, ankles, legs, and belly. Limiting sodium in your diet will make you feel better.

How can you avoid sodium when eating out?

It requires extra effort to avoid sodium when you eat out, because you can’t always tell by looking at the menu which items are high in sodium. It often depends on how the restaurant prepares the meal, what ingredients they use, and how much sodium they add. Here are some ways to avoid sodium when you dine out.

  • Try to choose restaurants where the food is made to order, instead of choosing fast-food or buffet-style restaurants. Before you order, ask how the food is prepared and if the restaurant offers low-sodium menu items. Often you can ask that your meal be prepared with no added sodium.
  • Most fast-food restaurants have nutrition information available, including sodium content. If you do eat at a fast-food restaurant, ask for the nutrition information and choose lower-sodium items.
  • Ethnic foods, such as Asian or Mexican, often have lots of sodium. You don’t always have to give up these foods, but ask the server to help you make lower-sodium choices.
  • When you eat out, try to eat very low-sodium items the rest of the day. This will help you stay within your sodium limit for the day.

Learn what food items are okay and which ones to avoid. For example, 1 tablespoon of soy sauce has more than 1,000 mg of sodium, and 1 teaspoon of salt has about 2,000 mg of sodium. You can use the following list and bring it with you to the restaurant. You may be able to substitute low-salt or fresh menu items for those with higher sodium content.

Tips for eating out

Foods to avoid

Instead, choose or ask for…

Smoked, cured, and salted meat, fish, and poultry Fresh,  grilled, baked, poached, or broiled meat, fish, or poultry
Ham, bacon, hot dogs, luncheon meats, and cheese Fresh roasted pork, turkey, or chicken
Canned vegetables Fresh steamed vegetables with no added salt. (Assume that cooked vegetables have added salt unless you ask for them to be prepared without it.)
Condiments, such as pickles, olives, tartar sauce, and ketchup Sliced cucumbers, malt vinegar, or low-sodium ketchup and mustard
Sauces, including soy sauce, tomato sauce, au jus, and gravy Low-sodium soy sauce, olive oil
Salad dressings Oil and vinegar, lemon juice, or low-sodium dressing
Fast foods, including french fries, pizza, and tacos Plain baked potato, grilled chicken sandwich
Fast foods, including french fries, pizza, and tacos Plain baked potato, grilled chicken sandwich

Ice cream, sherbet, frozen yogurt, and angel food cake are all lower-sodium dessert choices.

Where to go from here

Now that you have read this information, you can make low-sodium food choices when you eat out. Talk with your doctor about the changes to your diet. He or she may have more suggestions and tips on how to avoid sodium when you eat out. You may also want to meet with a registered dietitian for more ideas about a healthful diet for you.

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Add These Nutrients to Lower Your BP

Potassium: Lower Blood Pressure

The USDA says American adults don’t get enough of seven essential nutrients. Potassium is a key one. Studies show that potassium can help keep blood pressure healthy. Potassium also supports fertility and muscle and nerve function. But while potassium is in lots of foods naturally — like milk, potatoes, sweet potatoes, legumes, avocados, and bananas — many Americans still aren’t getting enough.

Magnesium: Prevent Disease

Low magnesium levels have been linked with health problems like osteoporosis, high blood pressure, diabetes, muscle cramps, and heart disease. Some people, such as the elderly, people with stomach or intestinal problems, or those who regularly drink alcohol, are at risk for having low magnesium levels. So eat your spinach — and your beans, peas, whole grains, and nuts (especially almonds). They could do a lot for your health.

Vitamin A: Up Your Beta-Carotene

There are two types of vitamin A: retinol and carotenoids, like beta-carotene. Beta-carotene is a carotenoid found in many orange and yellow foods — like sweet potatoes, carrots, and winter squash — as well as spinach and broccoli. Vitamin A is key in supporting good vision, healthy immunity, and tissue growth.

Vitamin D: Strong Heart and Mind

Vitamin D is important in the development of healthy bones, muscles, and nerve fibers as well as a strong immune system. Though our bodies can make it by exposure to sunlight, experts recommend getting vitamin D in other ways. A few foods naturally contain D, such as fatty fish such as salmon and mackerel, mushrooms, liver, cheese, and egg yolks do. Milk, some brands of orange juice, and many cereals are fortified with vitamin D.

Calcium: More Than Strong Bones

You probably know that calcium is good for teeth and bones. But that’s not all. Calcium helps maintain muscle function and heart rhythm. It might even help prevent high blood pressure. Dairy is a good source, but foods like salmon, kale, and broccoli are too. One tip: Without enough vitamin D, your body can’t absorb the calcium you take in.

Vitamin C: Immunity Booster?

Can vitamin C prevent the common cold? Maybe not. But some studies suggest it can shorten the duration of symptoms. This vitamin, found in many fruits and vegetables, has other benefits, too. It boosts the growth of bone and tissue. As an antioxidant, it might also help protect cells from damage.

Fiber: Bulk Up

Fiber from grains, beans, and produce has loads of health benefits. It helps lower cholesterol and improve bowel regularity. It might lower the risk of heart disease, diabetes, and some cancers. And it’s great for people trying to lose a few pounds. High-fiber foods are often filling and low in calories. Fiber supplements may, however, decrease the absorption of medications and supplements if they are taken at the same time.

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