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Reduce Blood Pressure at the Farmer’s Market
Summer is in the air, the flowers are blooming, the birds are chirping, and the grass is getting green, green, green… all signs that summer is right around the corner. The warm weather is also a signal that the cornucopia of locally grown fruits and vegetables is also just around the corner at the nearest farmer's market. Why favor farmers' markets over the grocery store? There are several main reasons: the food is fresher (healthier), the food is seasonal, the food is locally grown (you support local farmers) and you get a better variety of foods. Make sure you frequent your local farmer's market often, the ultimate health food store! Farmers' markets are also a veritable drugstore for blood pressure lowering superfoods. When shopping for these superfoods, here are the three blood pressure lowering mineral superstars you need to keep in mind: potassium, magnesium and calcium. How do you choose the food highest in these minerals? Simple–I have included my "Mining for Minerals Charts" from my new book, Blood Pressure Down. Cut them out and carry them to the Farmer's Market and when you see these foods, buy them, eat them and watch your blood pressure drop!
MINING FOR MINERALS
Low Sodium V8
* Each food contains over 400 mg potassium per 1/2 cup serving
Very High** Foods
** Each food contains over 250 mg potassium per 1/2 cup serving
Dry-roasted unsalted almonds
*Each food contains 100 mg magnesium per typical serving size
Very High** Foods
Peanut Butter (low sodium)
Fat Free Yogurt
Kidney and Pinto Beans
Dry Roasted unsalted peanuts
Baked Potato (with skin)
** Each food contains 50 mg magnesium per typical serving size
Fortified Fat Free Milk
Cheeses: low sodium
Low Fat Cottage Cheese
Part Skim Ricotta 1/2 cup
*Each food contains over 300 mg calcium per typical serving size
Very High** Foods
** Each food contains over 150 mg calcium per typical serving size
(© Excerpted from Blood Pressure Down by Janet Bond Brill, Ph.D., R.D., LDN, Copyright © 2013 Janet Brill, PH.D)
Here are some additional tips for shopping your local farmer's market:
1. Tomatoes: buy vine ripened and store with stem up. Green at the top is perfectly fine as tomatoes continue to ripen. Just be sure to avoid storing in the refrigerator, which will surely rob the tomatoes of their flavor.
2. Peaches, Apricots and Nectarines: also continue to ripen so buy them according to when you think you will eat them. A sweet, fully-ripened spectacularly delicious farm-fresh peach should be eaten immediately!
3. Cantaloupe: let your nose do the picking. A ripe cantaloupe should have a sweet melon smell at the stem end.
4. Berries: unlike tomatoes, berries do not ripen after picking, so buy the ones that look full and plump and ready to pop in your mouth at the market. A strawberry, for example, should be red and ripe all the way to the top. Just be sure NOT to wash the berries until right before you are ready to eat them.
5. Cucumbers: look for green and firm cukes, never yellow–an indication of aging.
6. Eggplants: look for shiny, smooth, deeply colored eggplants–never wrinkled–which indicates aging.
7. Lettuce: look at the stem of the lettuce…if it is brown it's a sure indication the head is not fresh. Also, look for lettuce that still contains much of the outer leaves. Sellers remove outer leaves to mask signs of aging. If buying bin lettuce, look for fresh looking leaves that are not brown in color or wilted.
8. Corn: again, check the stem of the corn stalk, brown stems indicate aging. Also, break off part of the stalk to inspect the kernels. Look for wrinkled or wilted-looking kernels which again indicates the cob is not fresh.
9. Buy organic produce when available: the Environmental Working Group (http://www.EWG.org) recommends you go organic with the "dirty dozen" conventional foods–known to have the highest pesticide levels.
Eating healthy is fun when you do your shopping at the farmers' markets. Eat your way to health starting now.
Janet Brill, Ph.D., R.D., LDN, is a leading diet, nutrition, and fitness expert. She is the author of Blood Pressure Down, Prevent a Second Heart Attack and Cholesterol Down. Learn more at: http://www.drjanet.com