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Posts Tagged ‘hypertension’

May is National High Blood Pressure Awareness Month

Posted by rhondascooking on May 11, 2012

The Center for Disease Control has marked May as National High Blood Pressure Awareness Month in an effort to raise awareness of its impact on one’s health. According to research, 1 out of every 3 American adults faces high blood pressure and every 40 seconds someone has a stroke! High blood pressure is the fourth leading cause of death in United States of America! [1]

The following are FIVE things you should know about this health issue [2]:

1. The definition of High Blood Pressure
High blood pressure (sometimes called hypertension) is the force of blood pushing against the walls of the arteries as the heart pumps blood. It can cause a number of things to occur such as coronary heart disease, heart failure, stroke, kidney failure, etc.

2. How would I know if I have High Blood Pressure?
Sometimes the symptoms aren’t obvious, such as numbness or weakness of the arm or leg or trouble seeing in one or both eyes, and other times the symptoms are distinguished like chest pains/tightening, severe headaches, slurred speech, dizziness, trouble walking/balancing. If you experience any of these symptoms, seek medical assistant immediately!

3. How to interpret blood pressure levels
Blood pressure is measure by Systolic and diastolic numbers. A normal blood pressure should have a systolic number of 120mmHG and a diastolic number of 80mmHG or lower for each. If the numbers are higher, then you will be categorized as the following:

  • Pre-hypertension: 120 – 139mmHG (systolic) or 80 – 89mmHG (diastolic)
  • High blood pressure (Stage 1): 140 – 149mmHG (systolic) or 90 – 99mmHG (diastolic)
  • High blood pressure (Stage 2): 150mmHG or higher (systolic)or 100mmHG or higher (diastolic)

4. The Causes High Blood Pressure?
There are a number of factors that could cause high blood pressure to occur. This is a subset of some of the causes.

  • Stress
  • Unhealthy Eating Lifestyle (High sodium diet, large intake of processed foods, large amount of alcohol consumption, smoking, or lack of physical activity.)
  • obesity
  • Age
  • Certain medications
  • Kidney or thyroid disease
  • Sleep apnea

5. Ways to prevent or reduce blood pressure?
First, consult your health care provider before beginning any changes in diet or medication. Secondly, work with your health care provider/nutritionist to transition to a healthier lifestyle one that includes exercise with a healthy diet—more vegetables, less sodium and less processed foods. You will start to see improved results!

High blood pressure impacts many families, especially many African American families, including mine! Let’s do what we can to spread the awareness!

[1]“May is Stroke Awareness Month; Know Your Risks.” National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Division for Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention Million Hearts™. April 23, 2012. <http://www.cdc.gov/Features/HighBloodPressure/&gt;.
[2] “What Is High Blood Pressure?” National Heart Lungs and Blood Institute. April 01, 2011. <http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/hbp/&gt;.

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Potassium Can Help Balance Blood Pressure

Posted by rhondascooking on August 1, 2009

Throughout my teen and adult years, my mom has always encouraged me to eat bananas.  In fact, she would always say, “Eat a banana to get your potassium.”  So I ate the banana even though I didn’t know why potassium was good for me and I’m not sure that she even knew why either.  All I knew was that “mom’s always right!”  Well, recently, mom did it again, she reminded me to eat my banana, but unlike the past, I decided to find out why I needed to have this banana!  Needless to say, mom was indeed right to encourage me to get my potassium.

Through my research, I learned that potassium is one of three major minerals, called an electrolyte.  The functions of potassium include the following1:

  • Assist with regulating fluids and mineral balance in and out of the cells
  • Assist with maintaining normal blood pressure by blunting sodium’s effects on blood pressure
  • Assist with transmitting nerve impulses/signals
  • Help muscles to relax

As you see, if you have challenges with high blood pressure or if you eat a lot of foods high in sodium, then you should definitely start to boost your potassium.  So how much potassium is necessary daily for men and women to achieve these benefits1?

  • Ages 9 – 13                        4500mg
  • Ages 14 and up                   4700mg
  • Breast feeding women          5100mg

Potassium can be found in almost all foods; see the table below to find out what foods have potassium; these foods are ranked from highest to lowest.

Food Amount Potassium (mg)
Lentils, cook 1 cup 738
Salmon fillet, baked 3 ounces 628
Mahi-mahi fillet, baked 3 ounces 533
Cod fillet, baked 3 ounces 517
Portabello mushroom 1 piece 484
Yam, baked in skin, peeled 1 cup 475
Red beans, can, unsalted 1 cup 460
Crimini mushrooms 1 cup 448
Mustard greens, cooked, no meat 1 cup 404
Potato, baked, no skin 1 each 391
Almonds, dry-roasted 1/2 cup 373
Banana, medium 1 piece 358
Broccoli, florets, uncooked 1/2 cup 325
Spinach, cooked, no salt 1/2 cup 302
Broccoli, chopped, cooked 1/2 cup 293
Turkey, breast, no skin, roasted 3 ounces 292
Beef, any cut, trimmed, cooked 3 ounces 269
Celery sticks, 4-inch long 1 piece 260
Chicken, breast, no skin, roasted 3 ounces 256
Romaine lettuce, shredded 1 cup 247
Baby carrots 10 pieces 237
Tomatoes, chopped, fresh 1/2 cup 237
Okra, cooked 1/2 cup 234
Cherries 1 cup 222
Coconut milk 2 tablespoons 220
Green beans, cooked 1/2 cup 159
Lemon, fresh 1/2 cup 120
Cow’s milk 1 cup 120
Green peas, cooked 1/2 cup 110
Apple, small 1 piece 107

1Duyff, Roberta Larson.  Complete Food and Nutrition Guide.  New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 2006.

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How Much Sodium Are You Consuming?

Posted by rhondascooking on August 24, 2008

Sodium one of the 6 major minerals that your body needs.  It regulates body fluids in and out of every cell, transmits nerve impulses, helps to regulate blood pressure, and helps the heart and muscles to relax.  So, if sodium is an important mineral for the body, then why are we advised by to eat foods low in sodium?


Here’s the deal, most Americans consume about 3200 – 4000mg of sodium per day1; this is BAD with a capital B!  According to the American Dietetic Association, Americans ages 9 and up should consume between 1,500 – 2,300mg of sodium per day—this is equivalent to ½ – 1 teaspoon!! If you have challenges with hypertension (high blood pressure), then you really need to make sure that you pay attention to the amount of sodium in foods.  According to the DASH plan (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) you should consume less than 2,300mg of sodium per day.  Please note that the amount of sodium required also changes with age (see Table 1). Maybe now you can see why we MUST be on a “low sodium” diet!  


Required Amount

Equivalent Amount



1/4 teaspoon

basic functions


1/2 teaspoons



1 teaspoon


Table 1.  Required amount of sodium


So how do you begin to make this transition to a low sodium diet?  Start slow and stop using table salt and transition to a light grey sea salt, such as Celtic Sea Salt.   Also, begin to use a combination of herbs and spices such as garlic, onions (leeks, shallots, Vidalia, etc.), onion powder, garlic powder, rosemary, parsley, cilantro, ginger, cumin, etc.  Target to only eat 500mg of sodium per meal and about 250mg of sodium per snack—you only should have 2 or 3 snacks per day!  If you need help, let me know because all of my recipes in my upcoming cookbook will be low sodium!  Email info@rhondasooking to put your name on the pre-order list.

1Duyff, Roberta Larson.  Complete Food and Nutrition Guide.  New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 2006.

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