Eating less sodium can help lower blood pressure in some people, reducing their risk of heart disease. While sodium is something
we need in our diets, most of us eat too much of it. Some of the sodium we eat comes from salt we add to our food or from processed foods we buy from the grocery store.
The American Heart Association recommends consuming less than 1500 mg of sodium each day.
Use these tips to reduce your salt intake:
1. Avoid adding salt to your foods at the table. Possibly adding some ground pepper can add flavor to most foods.
2. Take stock of the sources of salt in your diet, such as restaurant meals, salt-based condiments, and convenience foods. Some “prepackaged” foods are really loaded with salt.
3. Read the labels when shopping. Look for lower sodium in cereals, crackers, pasta sauces, canned vegetables, or any foods with low-salt options. Or, eat less processed and packaged foods.
4. Ask that salt not be added to your food, especially at restaurants. Most restaurant chefs will omit salt when requested.
5. If you need to use salt while cooking, add it at the end. You will need to add less.
Guess what? Eating is a healthy part of modern life. But, what if you thought about eating less to become healthier? Well, that may seem simple, but your body needs different amounts and a variety of foods at various times in your life. Babies, for instance, need lots of healthy breast milk or formula to begin their lives. Their healthy daily diet consists of plenty of fats, proteins, developmental nutrients, such as calcium and iron and, of course water, for re-hydration. As their bodies grow and even if they remain as breast feeders past the 1 year mark, they still need healthy fats, carbohydrates, proteins and nutrients other than iron, calcium and vitamins. Eventually, they graduate from soft creamy baby food to crispier and crunchier solid foods.
Our bodies need to eat those crispier, crunchier solid foods too, but in moderation. Like a growing baby’s stomach, which can only hold a few ounces at a time, increasing the amount as it expands and grows. Our stomachs can only hold so much at one time as we intake and digest our food. Originally, at the beginning of mankind, our adult bellies weren’t made to process a pound of fast food, cookies and ice cream, but up to a pound and a diet consisting of roots and fruits and berries, raw meats and animal fat. Early man had to eat fats to survive the harsh cold winter, but today we don’t. So, consider trying this your first week: Try to eat well, just as much as before, but eating healthier options.
Remember the colorful rainbow USDA recommended Food Chart back in grade school? It was a colorfully built pyramid depicting the limitation of sweets and treats in the first colored red line at the top. The top of the pyramid (which for adults should now include high sodium and processed foods, fatty fried and fast foods and alcoholic beverages). Then the next line was a limit of fats and oils, then moderate sized portions of lean proteins, then low fat dairy and eggs, then nuts and beans and then a green line depicting 5 daily servings of fruits and vegetables. Last, but not least in a yellow line consisting of 6 daily servings whole grains, pastas and breads. Today, based on your health specifications, whether you have diabetes, are considered obese or need to be on a special or restricted diet; this Colorful Food Chart doesn’t apply to your dietary needs. It is now recommended that, for adults, a whopping 7 servings of vegetables and no more than 3 servings of fresh fruit be the average caloric intake per day!
Our current civilization and acceptable society’s form of thinking and eating has been turned upside down, putting the sweets, fast foods, etc., at the bottom of the pyramid and limiting our fruits and our veggies intake, which is now at the top (see Food Pyramid for Modern Life above). No wonder in 2035 they expect the percentage of obesity to rise from around 30% to nearly a whopping 45% in the United States alone. Something to think about this week is to eat as much as you do now, but to try eating on a daily basis from the Healthy Eating Plate; including the majority of colorful fresh vegetables and fruits, whole grains and lean proteins…making sure to use healthy oils and drink plenty of water, unsweetened drinks. Limit your intake of sodium, sugary sweets (including soda pop), fast food, fried foods and alcohol. Also, remember to stay active!
Occasionally, Karen will be posting helpful cooking, foods and healthy ideas and tips. Here is an article posting that lists the ten best foods that help flatten your abdominals.
The 10 Best Foods for Flat Abs
Eat up for flatter abs — these waist-whittling foods give you a dose of ab-ulous nutrients in every bite.
The sad truth: You can crunch yourself into a coma and still have ab flab. If you really want a sleek, sexy midriff, you’ve got to tweak your diet. All of the best waist-whittling foods contain fiber to banish bloat, antioxidants to boost your abs routine’s effectiveness, and protein to help maintain a healthy metabolism. Here, the top 10 choices for flatter abs.
Almonds and Eggs
These delicious and versatile nuts contain filling protein and fiber, not to mention vitamin E, a powerful antioxidant. They’re also a good source of magnesium, a mineral your body must have in order to produce energy, build and maintain muscle tissue, and regulate blood sugar. “A stable blood-sugar level helps prevent cravings that can lead to overeating and weight gain,” says David Katz, MD, a professor at the Yale University School of Medicine. But what makes almonds most interesting is their ability to block calories. Research indicates that the composition of their cell walls may help reduce the absorption of all of their fat, making them an extra-lean nut.
Try for: An ounce a day (about 23 almonds), with approximately 160 calories. An empty Altoids tin will hold your daily dose perfectly.
You won’t find a more perfect protein source. Eggs are highly respected by dietitians because of their balance of essential amino acids (protein building blocks used by your body to manufacture everything from muscle fibers to brain chemicals). We like them because they keep our hands out of the cookie jar. Researchers at the Pennington Biomedical Research Center found that when people ate eggs in the morning, they felt less hungry throughout the day than when breakfast consisted of complex carbohydrates like bagels. “The protein and fat in the egg may be contributing to the feeling of satiety,” says lead researcher Nikhil V. Dhurandhar, PhD.
Try for: One egg a day, unless you have high blood cholesterol, in which case you should check with your doctor first. (One egg packs about 213 milligrams of cholesterol.)
Soy and Apples
Soybeans are a great source of antioxidants, fiber, and protein. Plus, they’re incredibly versatile.
Snack on dry-roasted soybeans, toss shelled edamame into soups, and slip a spoonful of silken tofu into your morning smoothie. Liquid soy also makes a good meal replacement: A study from the Journal of the American College of Nutrition found that overweight subjects who drank a soy milk based meal replacement lost more weight than those who consumed a traditional dairy-based diet drink.
Try for: Twenty-five grams of whole (not isolated) soy protein daily. A half cup of steamed edamame contains about 130 calories and 11 grams of protein. Four ounces of tofu (94 calories) contain 10 grams. Choose whole soy foods over products packed with “isolated soy protein” — the latter may not provide all the benefits of whole soybeans.
A 2003 study in the journal Nutrition found that overweight women who consumed three apples or pears a day for three months lost more weight than their counterparts who were fed a similar diet with oat cookies instead of fruits. “A large apple has five grams of fiber, but it’s also nearly 85 percent water, which helps you feel full,” explains Elisa Zied, RD, author of So What Can I Eat?! (Wiley, 2006).
Apples also contain quercetin, a compound shown to help fight certain cancers, reduce cholesterol damage, and promote healthy lungs.
Try for: An apple (or two) a day. A study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry found that the Red Delicious, Cortland, and Northern Spy varieties had the highest antioxidant activity.
Berries and Leafy Greens
Most are loaded with fiber, every dieter’s best friend. The more fiber you eat — experts say that it’s best to get between 25 and 35 grams every day — the fewer calories you absorb from all the other stuff you put in your mouth. That’s because fiber traps food particles and shuttles them out of your system before they’re fully digested. Berries (and other fruits) are also high in antioxidants, which not only help protect you from chronic diseases like cancer but may also help you get more results from your workouts. “Antioxidants help improve blood flow, which can help muscles contract more efficiently,” says Dr. Katz.
Try for: At least half a cup daily, or about 30 calories’ worth. Don’t limit yourself to the usual suspects, like raspberries, blueberries, and strawberries. If you can find them, add boysenberries, gooseberries, and black currants to the mix for excitement.
6. Leafy Greens
Their cancer-preventing carotenoids won’t help shrink your waistline, but their low calorie count definitely will. One cup of spinach contains only about 40 calories, while a cup of broccoli has 55 calories and satisfies 20 percent of your day’s fiber requirement. Most leafy greens are also a good source of calcium, an essential ingredient for muscle contraction. In other words, they help fuel your workouts.
Try for: Three servings daily. Keep a bag of prewashed baby spinach in your fridge and toss a handful into soups, salads, pasta dishes, stir-fries, and sandwiches. When you get sick of spinach, reach for a bunch of arugula, broccoli rabe, or broccolini, a cross between broccoli and Chinese kale.
Yogurt and Veggie Soup
People who get their calcium from yogurt rather than from other sources may lose more weight around their midsection, according to a recent study published in the International Journal of Obesity.
The probiotic bacteria in most yogurts help keep your digestive system healthy, which translates into a lower incidence of gas, bloating, and constipation, which can keep your tummy looking flat.
Try for: One to three cups a day of low-fat or fat-free yogurt. Choose unsweetened yogurt that contains live active cultures. Add a handful of fresh chopped fruit for flavor and extra fiber.
8. Veggie Soup
Researchers at Pennsylvania State University found that people who ate broth-based (or low-fat cream-based) soups two times a day were more successful in losing weight than those who ate the same amount of calories in snack food. Soup eaters also maintained, on average, a total weight loss of 16 pounds after one year. “Plus, it’s a simple way to get your vegetables,” says Susan Kleiner, PhD, RD, author of Power Eating (Human Kinetics, 2001).
Try for: At least one cup of low-calorie, low-sodium vegetable soup every day.
Salmon and Quinoa
Seafood, especially fatty fish like salmon, tuna, and mackerel, is an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids. These uber-healthy fats may help promote fat burning by making your metabolism more efficient, according to Kleiner. An Australian study showed that overweight people who ate fish daily improved their glucose-insulin response. Translated, this means that seafood may help slow digestion and prevent cravings. If that doesn’t hook you, consider this: Seafood is an excellent source of abs-friendly protein.
Try for: Two four-ounce servings per week. Wild salmon, though pricey, contains more omega-3 fatty acids than farm-raised. (If it doesn’t say wild, it’s farm-raised.) If seafood’s not your thing, you can get your omega-3’s from flax seed (grind and sprinkle on your cereal) or walnuts.
Never heard of it? Pronounced KEEN-wah, this whole grain contains 5 grams of fiber and 11 grams of protein per half cup. Cook it as you would any other grain (although some brands require rinsing).
Quinoa’s nutty flavor and crunchy-yet-chewy texture are like a cross between whole-wheat couscous and short-grain brown rice.
Try for: At least one half-cup serving (a third of your whole-grain requirements) per day. Try substituting AltiPlano Gold brand instant quinoa hot cereal (160 to 210 calories per packet), in Chai Almond and Spiced Apple Raisin, for oatmeal. Look for it in health-food stores.
Originally published in Fitness magazine, June 2006.
Karen’s Note: Try these wonderful recipes for flatter abs…Frank’s Cedar Plank Smoked Salmon, Karen’s Strawberry Poppy Seed Salad (which has three best foods for flat abs) or “Spring-into-Summer” Italian Veggie Soup!
Always reinventing myself by creating new recipes or craft ideas. All photos are genuine. Please send me an email or recipe you liked or tried.