High blood pressure is one of the most common ailments to affect man today, yet it is also one of the most easily remedied conditions.

While most people just accept high blood pressure as a common sign of aging, changing your lifestyle is the key to destroying that ridiculous “old age” myth…

Cutting all processed foods, meats, dairy and restaurant food you consume, along with eating nothing but whole and natural foods, combined with moderate exercise and adequate rest, is the corner-stones to reducing high blood pressure and maintaining a healthy, energetic life.

Fortunately, Fall provides a bounty of foods that are not only tasty but have just the right ingredients to get your blood pressure on track.

Squash, such as pumpkin, butternut squash, kabocha, and banana squash, is a delicious addition to any meal (or as a meal!) for those looking to lower and maintain healthy blood pressure. Squash boasts an impressive amount of the minerals magnesium and potassium, as well as some calcium. Adequate amounts of these minerals are important for maintaining healthy blood pressure, as they directly help to regulate proper blood vessel function (and thus blood pressure). In addition, squash contains numerous other beneficial nutrients, such as Beta-carotene and Vitamin C. Both these nutrients are important for helping to reduce inflammation in your body — reducing levels of inflammation is also important for reducing high blood pressure, but also important for reducing your risk for all other diseases, especially heart disease.

Brussels Sprouts are one of the most health-promoting foods you can consume! When it comes to blood pressure, they’re almost ideal! Brussels sprouts contain an impressive amount of potassium, one of those all-important electrolytes important for regulating blood pressure. Being a member of the cabbage family, they also contain large amounts of Vitamin C, Beta-carotene, calcium, fiber, and beneficial phytonutrients that decrease inflammation and help reduce your risk for all forms of cancer.

Apples are said to keep the doctor away for good reason! This fruit seems commonplace in the face of other ‘superfruits’ (like pomegranate and açaí) that we tend to forget it’s substantial health benefits. Apples contain a unique kind of soluble fiber called pectin. Pectin has been linked to lowering high cholesterol levels, reducing body inflammation, improving elimination, and reducing high blood pressure. Apples also boast a respectable amount of Vitamin C and an antioxidant called quercetin, which has been shown to increase oxygen availability in your lungs, thereby increasing overall endurance and relieving stress on your body.

Pumpkin Seeds, also known as pepitas, are usually available year-round at most grocery stores, but can be made fresh during the Fall! Pumpkin seeds contain large amounts of magnesium, an important mineral for maintaining healthy blood pressure and blood flower. A single serving of pumpkin seeds (1/4 cup) can contain as much as 50% of your recommended daily intake of magnesium! Pumpkin seeds also boast significant quantities of Vitamin E and zinc, two important nutrients required to promote optimal health, including supporting a healthy libido. Pumpkin seeds are especially beneficial for men, with numerous studies suggesting that consuming pumpkin seeds regularly will help reduce the risk of prostate cancer.

Yams are extremely beneficial to helping to reduce high blood pressure. Yams contain ample amounts of those important electrolytes magnesium and potassium, and also a hefty quantity of Vitamin C. Yams take the nutrition level up from potatoes in that they also contain large amounts of Beta-carotene, helping to reduce your body’s inflammation. In addition, yams having a lower Glycemic index than potatoes, making them an ideal choice for those looking to regulate blood sugar.

Kale is a nutrient powerhouse of a vegetable. Like the Brussels sprout, it is also a member of the cabbage family. I posted recently about the full health benefits of kale, but it’s so nutritious it was worth mentioning again! Kale contains a very large quantity of potassium, but also contains large amounts of Vitamin C, Vitamin K, calcium, magnesium, and Omega 3 fats — all of which are important for regulating a healthy blood pressure, and largely work in conjunction with each other!

No Fall or Winter is complete with the blood pressure reducing herb that is Cinnamon! While cinnamon is largely known for being delicious, it is most frequently touted for helping to regulate blood sugar levels. However, more recent studies have also shown cinnamon to be an important addition to helping regulate healthy blood pressure levels. The blood pressure regulating the effect of cinnamon has been shown to be even more powerful for those looking to regulate blood sugar levels. While it is unknown exactly why cinnamon is beneficial for regulating blood pressure, it likely has to do with lowering overall inflammation in the body. Sprinkle cinnamon on your oatmeal in the morning, or especially on your baked apples, oatmeal and squash!

Veganhurth

The hype around intermittent fasting has quickly overwhelmed the health field as both a research interest and weight loss fad. Yet, the idea of fasting is far from a new idea. Fasting has an old and unique history. Cultures all over the world have fasted for different reasons. From religious, spiritual, and cultural rituals to expressions of protest and medical research, abstaining from the consumption of food has deep and varied roots. While there may be countless ways and reasons to fast, the most recent focuses on the benefits of the body.

Recent studies reveal new data regarding the short and long-term benefits of fasting. Intermittent fasting, in conjunction with a balanced plant-based diet, has been proven to streamline and enhance the body’s functions, from increased energy to managing healthy weight to mental clarity. With that said, there is a right and wrong way to fast. It’s incredibly important to educate yourself on the what, why, and how of fasting, as well as to speak with a nutritionist or doctor before attempting it.

The Terminology of Intermittent Fasting  

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Fasting is the “willing abstinence or reduction from some or all food, drink, or both for a period of time.” There are different categories of fasting depending on the reason for abstaining from food and/or liquids. Absolute or dry fasts refer to abstaining from all food and liquids, while water fasts allow only water and no food. Intermittent fasting allows for more flexibility by abstaining from food and liquid (besides water) for a designated period of time.

Intermittent fasting is when you rotate between periods of time that you eat and periods of time where you don’t. The most popular type of intermittent fasting is called the 16/8 where “you’re technically fasting for 16 hours every day, and restricting your eating to an eight-hour eating window.” Yet, intermittent fasting doesn’t have to be this drastic. Many people opt for a 13-hour eating window instead.

While this may seem challenging, the process is simplified by your body’s natural circadian rhythm.

Circadian rhythm, also known as the sleep-wake cycle, refers to “a 24-hour internal clock that is running in the background of your brain and cycles between sleepiness and alertness at regular intervals.” The internal clock is controlled by your hypothalamus and influenced by environmental factors such as sunlight and night. The circadian rhythm of your body is essentially a built-in shut off switch for at least six to eight hours every 24-hour period.

Benefits of Intermittent Fasting

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The benefits of fasting are only achieved when fasting is performed in a healthy and safe way. There is a plethora of misinformation being circulated around the internet and by word-of-mouth. One of the most important aspects to remember is that intermittent fasting doesn’t replace healthy eating and regular exercise habits. Fasting doesn’t equal a free ticket to gluttony.

With that said, when intermittent fasting is done correctly, the benefits are worth the work.

Healthy Weight Management 

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Weight loss is a billion dollar empire. From diet regimes to home-delivered meals to cookbooks, everyone is looking for the fastest and easiest way to drop unwanted pounds. The popularity surrounding intermittent fasting is largely due to its success in achieving fast and sustainable weight management.

With that said, there are a few factors that influence healthy weight management via intermittent fasting.

The first of these is psychological. Intermittent fasting teaches control over your hunger signals. When fasting, you refrain from eating, yet the desire to eat is still prevalent. Abstaining from food encourages mindfulness regarding the signals in your gut, what they really mean, and an opportunity to break bad eating habits.

The second is biological and relies on the relationship between fasting and insulin.

Insulin is a hormone that is created by the pancreas and provides cells with energy. Among other important jobs, insulin “allows the cells in the muscles, fat, and liver to absorb glucose” from the blood, which then turns into energy, is converted into fat, or breaks down proteins. Recent studies suggest that intermittent fasting results in lower insulin levels. With lower insulin levels comes the ability for the body to burn more fat instead of sugar and therefore helps combat obesity, aids in obtaining a healthy weight, and supports weight maintenance.

Aging with Agility

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While there is still much to learn about the connection between intermittent fasting and longevity, there have been some remarkable discoveries.

Research on this subject has been in the works for years. In the 1930’s, Cornell University nutritionist Clive McCay discovered that “rats subjected to stringent daily dieting from an early age lived longer and were less likely to develop cancer and other diseases as they aged.” Since that time, many studies have been conducted on the relationship between fasting and autophagy, the process that promotes cell death and regeneration. Autophagy has been seen to increase during periods of intermittent fasting, which allows DNA debris and biological waste products to be cleansed and renewed.

While there is no halting the clock, intermittent fasting may be an asset to aging with grace.

Enhanced Endurance

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We may dream of the day that exercise comes naturally, yet that dream may not be so fantastical.

Intermittent fasting has been linked to enhanced physical endurance due to a molecule called glycogen. Glycogen are molecules that store glucose, which is an essential compound made of sugar that regulates blood glucose levels, as well as other systems.

An accomplished researcher and expert on the subject, Dr. Rhonda Patrick has pioneered new research by connecting glycogen, energy, and intermittent fasting. Glycogen stores take about 10 – 12 hours to be depleted at which time fatty acids are released from tissues. These fatty acids are converted into ketone bodies, water-soluble molecules produced in the liver, which travel to tissues and are then used for energy. Therefore, according to Dr. Patrick, it “makes sense that eating within a nine-hour window and fasting for 15 hours overnight may lead to endurance enhancements.”

Best Foods to Keep Your Belly FullSweet and Sour Pineapple Sticky Rice

Sweet and Sour Pineapple Sticky Rice/One Green Planet

Successful intermittent fasting relies on discipline and preparedness. It’s important to fill your eating time-frame with nutritional, balanced, and filling foods. This is even more prevalent for those on a plant-based diet. While vegetarian and vegan diets may feel like they add an additional challenge, it is an easy one to tackle.

One of the best ways to meet satiety is through knowing what makes food filling.

Filling foods generally have higher amounts of protein, fiber, and water, and low energy density. Prepare for your fast by consuming meals that are high in these ingredients and always make sure to drink lots of water. Use these recipes from the Food Monster App to get started.

Whole GrainsPersephone Bowl [Vegan, Gluten-Free]

Persephone Bowl/One Green Planet

Incorporating whole grain into your meals is a great way to keep you full longer. Whole grains keep all parts of the kernel including the bran, germ, and endosperm. Whole grain digests slower, therefore the feeling of being “full” lasts longer.

Try starting your day with a bowl of oatmeal or porridge. Oats are high in insoluble fiber, yet low in calories and can be decorated with other filling ingredients such as nuts and seeds. Later in the day, try a few of these whole grain filled recipes: Mushroom and Kale Farrow Salad, Persephone Bowl, Buckwheat Pooris, or Roasted Beet Sorghum Salad With Ginger-Lime Vinaigrette.

Vegetables with Starch

Slow Cooker Winter Squash Quinoa Curry/One Green Planet

Starchy vegetables are heavier, heartier, and more robust. These include sweet and white potatoes, beets, pumpkin, corn, carrots, and a variety of winter squash. While these veggies may keep you full longer due to their high level of carbohydrates, be careful to not overuse them. Being carbohydrates, starchy vegetables also have high levels of sugar, which can be difficult for your body to break down.

Try a few of these winter squash recipes: Slow Cooker Winter Squash Quinoa Curry, Winter Squash and Sage Pizza, Winter Squash and Quinoa Rissoles, Butternut Squash Hashbrowns, and Butternut Squash, Potato and Kale Casserole.

Nuts and SeedsRaw Cashew Almond Cheese b

Raw Cashew Almond Cheese/One Green Planet

Nuts and seeds are great additives for a meal, as well as offer a hearty snack. Sprinkle them on your oatmeal, crush and roast them in squash dishes, or keep a baggie in your purse to nibble on. These tasty morsels are great tummy fillers due to the fact that they are packed with “protein and fiber and contain unsaturated fats that can help stabilize insulin levels.”

In vegan recipes, nuts offer a buttery and savory alternative ingredient for dairy-free cheese and toppings such as these Brazil Nut Vegan ParmesanRaw Cashew Almond Cheese, or Baked Cashew Mozzarella recipes. Seeds, on the other hand, pack a punch of flavor and nutrients. Try a few different recipes to discover your favorite seed: Baked Sweet Potato With Pesto Pasta, Tomatoes, and Pumpkin Seeds, Rainbow Salad (with a sprinkling of hemp seeds), Super Weed Green Smoothie, or Red Lentil Burgers With Kale Pesto.

LegumesChili Lime Lentil Tacos With Spicy Grilled Pineapple Salsa [Vegan]

Chili Lime Lentil Tacos With Spicy Grilled Pineapple Salsa

Legumes are a staple of plant-based diets due to their versatility. Some claim that legumes are more satiating than meat. They are high in fiber and protein and low in calories.

Lentils, one of the most popular of the legume family, is a must-have ingredient for the vegan kitchen. Try a couple of these recipes featuring lentils: Red Lentil and Butternut Squash Burgers, Chickpea Spinach Stew With Lentils and Quinoa, Chili Lime Lentil Tacos With Spicy Grilled Pineapple Salsa, Red Lentil Curry With Black Tahini and Roasted Cashews.

 

Lead image source: YUUser687/Pixabay 

We all know about many of the key “superfoods” that are often suggested to us for a power-packed diet. Some of these include goji, açai, turmeric, or kale, and for good reason. These ingredients are undoubtedly nutritious, but there are other less well-known options that can be just as healthy.

Here are a few ingredients that you may not have known about, but that have some powerful health benefits.

Kamut

Brent Hofacker/Flickr

Are your usual grains becoming too familiar? Give Kamut a try. This ancient ingredient has been found as far back as Egyptian times. It has more protein and fatty acids that wheat, plus is full of zinc, selenium, magnesium, and fiber. Kamut is also a source of thiamin, phosphorus, niacin, iron, folate, manganese, vitamin B2 & B6, and calcium. Also called Khorasan wheat, this has a nutty flavor and is great for digestion due to its high fiber.

Seeded Spelt and Kamut Sourdough

Seeded Spelt and Kamut Sourdough

Kamut is perfect is cereals, breads, soups, baking, and beyond. The easiest way to work with it is by soaking overnight then boiling for about 30 minutes and it’s ready to enjoy. Try it out in this Seeded Spelt and Kamut Sourdough recipe for a healthier and more flavorful bread alternative.

You can also enjoy Kamut in nutritious sweet treats like these Cocoa Puffed Rice and Kamut Crispies throughout the day.

Avocado Seeds

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Don’t throw those pits away! If you’re a fellow avocado-eater, this is an item that you probably already have in your kitchen. A lot of prized nutrients live in the seeds of your avocado. In fact, around 70% of avocado’s antioxidants are located in the pit! Some of these benefits include encouraging cardiovascular health, reducing fatigue, and anti-aging properties. They are also noted as potentially instrumental in the lowering of blood pressure. Just keep in mind that research on the consumption of these seeds is still minimal.

Avocado seeds have a slightly bitter flavor. Because of this, the easiest way to reap their benefits is by throwing them into a smoothie. By combining it with other flavors, you won’t even know it’s there but can enjoy the health boost. Find out more by looking at Why You Should Eat That Avocado Seed and How to Make it Tasty.

Acerola

Acerola plant

Andreia/Flickr

If you’re looking for an immune boost, don’t just gravitate toward oranges. Instead, acerola (or acerola cherry) is a must-have. Not only does this have wonderful vitamin C levels, but the flavor is delicious as well. Other perks of this South American fruit include heart health because of the B vitamins, in addition to promoting brain function due to its anthocyanins.

Because of acerola’s favorable sweetness, you can enjoy this as is or in sweeter dishes like smoothies or desserts. You can also get creative and add it to salsa recipes for some flavor dimension.

Wakame

Wakame

Sweet Beet and Green Bean/Flickr

Sea vegetables are amazing diet additions, but some tend to be more prevalent than others. Wakame is often underappreciated but can offer fantastic advantages for those who are aware of it. Some of these include bone-strengthening due to its calcium levels, plus cancer prevention and assistance with diabetes. This occurs because of its fucoxanthin, which can help maintain lower body weight as well as ease insulin resistance. For those who are anemic or just looking for an iron boost, wakame is also a great plant-based source.

Wakame is great in dishes needing some saltiness, such as salads, stir-frys, soups, and sushi. A classic way to treat this is in some Spring Rolls With Wakame to get yourself started with this ingredient. Or, as a heartier dish, try out this delicious Kabocha Squash Stuffed With Black Rice, Kale and Wakame.

For more creative chefs, use in this Spanish Omelet with Sun-Dried Tomatoes and Wakame for a brunch like no other. However you use it, wakame will not disappoint.

Fenugreek

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Often integral to the perfect curry, fenugreek is native to South Asia but deserves to be embraced across the earth. Its uses include helping with sleep, calming fever or a sore throat, enhancing digestion, balancing hormones, and promoting heart health. In addition, fenugreek is wonderful for digestion due to the mucilage which coats the stomach’s lining. This has also been studied for strong anti-inflammatory effects on pre-existing ailments.

Instant Pot Green Kitchari

Instant Pot Green Kitchari 

The flavor of this distinctive ingredient is perfect for adding character and spice to your meals. It’s perfect in recipes such as Indian Whole Wheat Flatbreads With Fenugreek to serve alongside your favorite dish. For a more flavorful bite, try it in this Methi Gobi: Indian Cauliflower With Ginger and Fenugreek. Another way to highlight fenugreek is inside Instant Pot Green Kitchari, which is just as delicious as it is healing.

Ashwagandha

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It may be hard to pronounce, but the benefits are easy to see. Ashwagandha, also referred to as Indian Ginseng, is an adaptogen which has long since been used in alternative medicinal healing. However, you don’t have to wait until you’re feeling ill to give it a try. Ashwagandha is great for reducing stress or anxiety, memory, and brain improvement, helping adrenal functions, and enhancing muscle strength & stamina.

You can often find ashwagandha in powder form most readily. If so, this is a great format to add to smoothies or elixirs. Alternatively, add it to a turmeric latte or brew some tea with this herb.

For even more healthy inspiration, head over to the Food Monster App, which is available for both Android and iPhone, and can also be found on Instagram and Facebook. With over 10,000 plant-based, allergy-friendly recipes, you can try new recipes every day.

You may have heard the word “adaptogens” thrown around recently. But what are they exactly? You might guess from their name that they have something to do with adapting. Specifically, adaptogens are plant-based foods (mainly roots, herbs, and mushrooms) considered to help the body adapt to stress. More broadly, they have a normalizing effect on body processes and are known to help promote homeostasis. This means they can help you feel more balanced!

There are many kinds of adaptogens, and while they share some things in common, they all have slightly different effects. In fact, they do not necessarily share any common mechanisms, meaning they accomplish similar effects in different ways. Take a look at the list below to decide which is right for you! Most of these can be found in powdered or capsule form, but some can be eaten with delicious recipes

1. Ginseng

Faydasi Var / Flickr

Looking for an alternative to caffeine? Ginseng is a root vegetable common in traditional Chinese medicine that is often used as a tea. It is known to promote a feeling of increased energy and sharper cognitive function. This makes it a popular substitute for coffee, for those who would rather not have caffeine. It is also known for its anti-inflammatory properties and its ability to regulate blood sugar.

Try this Healing Turmeric Smoothie with ginseng for energy and immunity.

2. Ashwagandha

Dinesh Valke / Flickr

Ashwagandha is a root that has been used for centuries in Ayurvedic medicine but has recently become popular in the west. It is known to protect against stress, heal adrenal fatigue, and promote memory function. It is also anti-inflammatory and anti-arthritic. It’s usually found in powdered form and can be added to smoothies.

3. Licorice

Dave Ungar / Flickr

Licorice is another adaptogenic root known to heal adrenal fatigue. In addition, it can help ease stress by regulating cortisol levels. It’s also used for its anti-inflammatory properties and to aid digestion. Though many people will be familiar with licorice as a candy, it can also be consumed as a tea, in powdered form, or even raw. The root itself can be chewed and has a pleasantly sweet flavor.

For a healthier alternative to candy, try this Raw licorice or these Raspberry Licorice Mini Cakes.

4. Maca

Wikimedia Commons

Maca is a root that has been cultivated and used for centuries to treat infertility. It is considered to have an energizing effect and is often used to treat fatigue. It is also used to reduce symptoms of depression, improve blood pressure, and support immunity. Maca has even been shown to alleviate the loss of sex drive as a side effect of antidepressants in postmenopausal women. It is often consumed in powdered or capsule form, in tea, and in recipes that use chocolate.

Check out this Maca Hot Chocolate or this Maca Chocolate Bark for a unique chocolate experience.

5. Astragalus

Wikimedia Commons

Astragalus root has been used in traditional Chinese medicine to protect against disease. It has anti-inflammatory properties and helps to support the immune system and regulate blood pressure. It can be found in powdered or capsule form.

6. Tulsi

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Tulsi, also known as Holy Basil or the “Queen of Herbs,” has been used in Ayurvedic medicine for centuries. It has many uses, but it is most commonly used to treat stress and to regulate metabolism. It is also antibacterial and anti-inflammatory. It’s also commonly used as a tea and has a pleasant flavor.

Try this recipe for Tulsi Chai to spice up your tulsi tea.

7. Rhodiola

rhodiola rosea

Rhodiola is an herb that’s popular among athletes for its role in aiding post-exercise muscle recovery and can help improve stamina. It’s also an effective metabolism regulator and can help manage stress. Rhodiola is often consumed as an extract or made into tea. It has a strong flavor, which can be diluted with fruit juice, sparkling water, herbal teas, or honey.

8. Amla

amla berry

Eleonora Mariotti/Flickr

Amla, also called Indian Gooseberry, is a berry used in Ayurvedic medicine. It has anti-inflammatory properties and helps to regulate metabolism. It can ameliorate the neurotoxicity of a high salt and cholesterol diet and has promising potential in reducing obesity. And like most fruits, it is full of immune-boosting vitamin C. The fruit can be eaten directly or turned into juice, but it can also be found in powdered or capsule form.

9. Cordyceps

Cordyceps

Paul/Flickr

Cordyceps fungi, featured on the Planet Earth series, seem like something out of science fiction: they attack and consume small invertebrates. Many varieties have been used medicinally for their anti-aging effects. They are known to improve brain function, increase antioxidative activity, and promote sexual function. They can be found in powdered or capsule form.

10. Lion’s Mane

lions mane mushroom

Larry Reis/Flickr

Lion’s mane is a mushroom named for its unique shape. It is used to treat anxiety and depression. It can also increase energy, promote memory function, and aid digestion. The mushrooms can be eaten directly or consumed in powdered or capsule form.

11. Reishi

reishi mushroom

Herbert Baker/Flickr

Reishi mushrooms are used in traditional Chinese medicine. They are known to regulate blood sugar levels, boost immune system function, treat fatigue, and fight cancer. They can be made into tea or tinctures and found in powdered or capsule form.

Try this Chocolate Reishi Latte with your breakfast for a morning energy boost.

12. Maitake

maitake mushroom

Dbarronoss/Flickr

The maitake mushroom, also known as Sheep’s Head or Hen of the Woods, is traditional in Japanese cuisine, literally translating to “dancing mushroom” in Japanese. It is used to regulate blood pressure and to assist with weight loss and is even thought to help fight cancer. The mushroom can be eaten directly and has a pleasant savory flavor. It can be found in Asian restaurants and supermarkets, and like most other adaptogens it can also be found in powdered form.

Check out these Maitake Mushroom Sandwiches or these Blackened Maitake Steaks.

13. Shiitake

shiitake mushroom

stethnews

The shiitake mushroom is another traditional component of Japanese cuisine. Shiitakes have been studied for their promising anti-cancer properties. One of the compounds in these mushrooms has been found to inhibit the growth of tumors. They are also used to treat allergies as well as arthritis. Shiitake mushrooms can be found in most grocery stores, and like maitakes, they have a pleasant savory flavor. Though they can be expensive when fresh, they can also be purchased frozen.

Try these Shiitake Bacon Flatbreads, this Mash With Shiitake Gravy, or these Roasted Shiitakes.

While all adaptogens have known health benefits, it is important to exercise caution when adding these to your diet. Some have drug interactions, so you will want to check WebMD before trying a new adaptogen to make sure it doesn’t interact with any drugs you’re currently taking.

Even if you’re in the clear, keep in mind that these are potent medicinal substances. As with any medicine, be careful not to overdose. If you’re feeling excessive stress, taking ten doses of some adaptogen will likely make things worse! Enjoy these adaptogens in moderation, in combination with a healthy diet, good cardio exercise, and sufficient sleep if you want to take control of your anxiety.

Everyone wishes to have a normal blood pressure reading as it is commonly known that high blood pressure can lead to hypertension and increase your risk for a cardiac event or stroke. In order to fully take control of your blood pressure levels, it is important to understand what causes it to rise and how to go about stabilizing your reading.

In this article, we will explore what causes blood pressure to rise, how a plant-based diet can lower and stabilize blood pressure, and how to eat and cook with these tips in mind. For more information, keep on reading!

1. What is Blood Pressure and How Does It Rise?

agilemktg1/Flickr

In order for our bodies to function properly our tissues and organs require oxygenated blood that has been carried by our circulatory system. When our heart beats, pressure is created that pushes blood to our arteries, capillaries, and veins. This blood pressure occurs due to two forces: systolic pressure and diastolic pressure. Systolic pressure happens when blood is pumped out of our heart, while diastolic pressure occurs between heart beats. These two forces are represented as numbers when you get your blood pressure taken.

When blood pressure levels rise, the heart and blood vessels must work even harder, causing them to work less efficiently as time carries on. Over time this can lead to damage to tissues inside the arteries, and cause plaque to build along tears in the arteries from LDL cholesterol. High blood pressure is what causes hypertension, and it can also significantly elevate your risk for a heart attack, stroke, heart failure, and kidney and liver disease.

So, what causes high blood pressure?

High blood pressure can be caused by environmental and genetic factors such as smoking, intense alcohol consumption, obesity, lack of physical exercise, stress, old age, family history of high blood pressure, and adrenal and thyroid disorders. It can also be caused by a diet rich in processed meats like bacon, sausage, and lunch meat, sodium, fatty meats, fried food, whole milk dairy products, and an excess of butter and margarine.

2. How a Plant-Based Diet Can Lower Blood Pressure

Kathy Reid. NZ/Flickr

Changing your diet, eliminating smoking and alcohol consumption from your lifestyle, and getting an adequate amount of exercise is a great way to lower your blood pressure. Opting for a plant-based diet may even be a great option for some as it eliminates the consumption of red meat and processed meats, which have been associated with higher blood pressure readings. It also includes fruits, vegetables, grains, nuts and seeds, and legumes that have been shown to improve vasodilation, increase antioxidant and anti-inflammatory content, improve blood viscosity, and in turn, lower blood pressure. Plant-based protein has also been seen to improve blood pressure when compared to animal-based protein.

A diet rich in nutritionally dense foods, while lower in processed foods, sodium, alcohol, and saturated fat, can work wonders at maintaining a healthy heart!

3. Foods That Naturally Lower Blood Pressure

Anna Verdina/Flickr

Cooking with foods that can naturally lower your blood pressure is an excellent way to take control of your health! These foods work to help you maintain a normal reading!

  1. Dark Leafy Greens like kale, romaine, spinach, and arugula are rich in potassium which works to remove sodium through urination. This in turn helps lower your blood pressure!
  2. Berries are loaded with flavonoids, a powerful antioxidant that can help decrease rates of hypertension.
  3. Red Beets are especially high in nitric oxide which help to widen blood vessels while lowering blood pressure.
  4. Oatmeal is a great dish to eat for breakfast to promote healthy blood pressure because it is filled with fiber, is low in fat, and low in sodium.
  5. Bananas are also rich in potassium making them ideal at maintaining blood pressure.
  6. Seeds contain minerals known for lowering blood pressure like magnesium and potassium.
  7. Pomegranates have powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant qualities that makes it an effective food to consume to decrease blood pressure, improve cholesterol, and even decrease plaque buildup in your arteries.
  8. Pistachio consumption can reduce blood vessel and heart rate, reducing your blood pressure.

4. Lower Your Blood Pressure With These Recipes!

Rainbow Salad/One Green Planet

Cooking dishes that can work to lower your blood pressure is an act of self love. It can also be extremely gratifying when your labor in the kitchen turns into a mouthwatering meal. Recipes like this Arugula, Kiwi, and Fennel Salad, Beautiful Berry Coconut Smoothie Bowl, Roasted Beet Noodles with Pesto and Baby Kale, Roasted Cauliflower and Coconut Overnight Porridge Pots, 4-Ingredient Pistachio Nice Cream, Power Bread with Sunflower Seeds, Flax, Sesame, and Pumpkin Seeds, or this Low-Carb Pomegranate Sweet Potato Toast from our Food Monster App are great for maintaining healthy blood pressure levels!

For more like Want to Help Lower Your Blood Pressure the Natural Way?, we recommend downloading our Food Monster App, which is available for both Android and iPhone and can also be found on Instagram and Facebook. The app has more than 10,000 plant-based, allergy-friendly recipes, and subscribers gain access to new recipes every day. Check it out! 

Lead Image Source: rose cruse/Flickr 

By Alysa Bajenaru, RD

You may have heard celebrities touting the health benefits of an alkaline diet, but what is it and should you be following their lead?

An alkaline diet is typically defined as consuming 80% alkaline-forming foods and 20% acid-forming foods. But if we’re using the words alkaline and acid to define a diet, we first need to talk about pH.

What Is PH and Why Is it Important?

You probably remember from science class that pH measures how acidic or basic a solution is.

  • 0-7 is acidic
  • 7 is neutral
  • 7-14 is basic (alkaline)

When it comes to the human body, there are strict controls in place to make sure the blood pH remains right around 7.4. Anything outside of this tight range is life-threatening. The good news is, no matter what you eat or drink, your body will maintain this delicate balance.

The foods you eat won’t change your pH levels, but they will affect how hard your body has to work to keep that 7.4 level steady. That’s where the alkaline diet comes in.

Are Acidic Foods Like Tomatoes and Citrus Bad for Me?

Just because a food is acidic in nature, doesn’t necessarily mean it forms acid in the body. To find out the acid- or base-forming potential of foods, we actually look at something called the potential renal acid load, or PRAL, a value that measures acid excretion in the urine.

Alkaline Forming Foods

  • Fruits
  • Vegetables
  • Nuts
  • Some legumes

Acid Forming Foods

You can find more complete lists and charts online, but you can see that the first step in following a more alkaline diet is to increase your consumption of fruits and vegetables.

If your diet looks more like the second column, your body is working harder to maintain that pH balance by releasing alkalizing minerals such as calcium and magnesium into the blood to buffer the acid. An acid-forming diet is low in these minerals, which means the body must get them from where they are stored in your bones—this may be a risk factor for osteoporosis.

What Are Some Health Benefits of an Alkaline Diet?

Increased fruit and vegetable intake has been linked with lower rates of osteoporosis, cardiovascular disease and other chronic diseases. Combine this with a lower intake of acid-forming foods, and you find even more health benefits like improved muscle retention and cognitive function. One study even showed a decrease in lower back pain when supplementing with alkaline minerals.

The bottom line is that eating more fruits and vegetables is always a good idea, and reducing inflammation and acid-formation in the body has multiple benefits for long-term health.

What Supplements Support Alkalinity in the Body?

Here are three tips to get you started on the path to a more alkaline diet:

  • Trade your morning cup of acidic coffee for alkaline green tea or homemade green juice.
  • Drink plenty of water throughout the day (try for half your body weight in ounces).
  • Fill half your plate with veggies at every meal.

Alkalizing Green Juice Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup water
  • 1/4 cup coconut milk
  • 1 cup spinach
  • 1 small green apple
  • 1/2 cup cucumber
  • 1 stalk celery
  • 1 cup romaine lettuce
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 2 tsp. spirulina powder

Instructions:

Blend all ingredients together until smooth. Serve over ice or at room temperature (my favorite).

Why Juice?

Fruits and vegetables provide one more substance that is absolutely essential for good health – water. More than 65% of the cells in the human body are made of water, and in some tissues, for example the brain, the cells can be made up of as much as 80% water. Water is absolutely essential for good health, yet most people don’t consume enough water each day. Plus, many of the fluids we do drink, coffee, tea, soft drinks, alcoholic beverages and artificially flavored drinks each contain substances that require extra water for your body to eliminate. Fruit and vegetable juices are free of these unneeded substances and are full of pure, clean water.

Fruit and vegetable juices are good sources of traditional nutrients. Citrus fruits (grapefruit, oranges, etc.) provide healthy portions of vitamin C. Carrot juice contains large quantities of vitamin A, in the form of beta carotene. A number of green juices are a good source of vitamin E. Fruit juices are a good source of essential minerals like iron, copper, potassium, sodium, iodine, and magnesium, which are bound by the plant in a form that is most easily assimilated during digestion.

Since juicing removes the indigestible fiber, these nutrients are available to the body in much larger quantities than if the piece of fruit or vegetable was eaten whole. For example, because many of the nutrients are trapped in the fiber when you eat a raw carrot, you are only able to assimilate about 1% of the available beta carotene. When a carrot is juiced, removing the fiber, nearly 100% of the beta carotene can be assimilated.

Fresh juices are a tremendous source of enzymes. In fact, the “freshness” of juice is one of their key features because enzymes are destroyed by heat. When you eat cooked foods, whether its meat, grains, fruits or vegetables, if the food is cooked at temperatures above 114 degrees, enzymes are destroyed by the heat. Since fruits and vegetables are juiced raw, the enzymes are still viable when you drink the juice.

Restore Your Vitality & Revitalize Your Body

Juicing vegetables is one of the most powerful tools one can use to obtain high level vitality and the fastest way to restore your health. Vegetable juicing will establish an environment where nutrients can be used by the body. The nutrients are rich in supply and taken directly to the cells. Iron levels will normalize very quickly just on green juices alone. The benefits are enormous. The green juices in particular will build your blood, carry oxygen to the tissues and irrigate the system, removing stagnation.

Live Enzymes & Living Juice

The simplest way to eat living food is by drinking fresh juice. Fruits and vegetables build and regenerate our body; they provide minerals, enzymes, vitamins, carbohydrates, proteins, amino acids and much more when eaten fresh or raw, without cooking or preservatives. Fresh juice is referred to as “live food” because it contains enzymes. Enzymes are protein molecules that have been found to have enormous health benefits. They have the ability to stimulate biochemical reaction. Enzymes are the body’s life force and are constantly breaking down substances and rejoining substances to rebuild and repair. Without enzymes all life would simply be a collection of lifeless chemicals. In other words, the element that enables the body to be nourished and live, the element that is hidden within seeds and plants in the sprouting and growth of plants, is a life principle known as an enzyme. Heating enzymes and vitamins causes their destruction and minimizes the vitality of your juice. Enzymes are the catalyst for hundreds of thousands of chemical reactions that occur throughout the body; they are essential for the digestion and absorption of foods as well as for the production of cellular energy. Enzymes are essential for most of the building and rebuilding that goes on constantly in our bodies.

Fresh Fruit & Vegetable Juice for Your Daily Diet

The addition of fresh juices will immediately make our eating habits healthier by adding larger amounts of beneficial raw food in a delicious and more easily digestible form. Raw, uncooked fruits and vegetables contain vitamins, minerals and enzymes. Dietary experts now emphasize the importance of vitamins and minerals for normal growth and tissue maintenance and efficient absorption (enzymes). The Super Angel is perfect for a diet that depends on living and raw foods, especially hard-to-extract juices like wheatgrass and spinach as well as fibrous vegetables like beets.

The Benefits of Juice

  • Improves life expectancy and health
  • Contributes to the prevention of heart diseases
  • Helps with depression
  • Helps relieve high blood pressure
  • Helps detoxify the body, thereby helping to alleviate allergies
  • Helps with degenerative and deficiency diseases
  • Aids digestion
  • It is believed that fresh juice may assist in reducing the body’s stress by helping to correct acid/alkaline imbalances that are so common in our modern world.
  • The nutrients and enzymes found in fresh juices can immediately go to work in the body to strengthen the body’s natural immune system to help prevent disease.

Live Enzymes from the Super Angel Living Juice Extractor

Freshly prepared juices are a rich source of live enzymes. These enzymes are not only essential to the digestive process, but they are absorbed and recycled to the digestive tract. On their journey they are able to scavenge debris and effectively vacuum clean the blood of fungus, bacteria and undigested food particles which may have escaped digestion. These enzymes are crucial to the healing system. One doctor, Dr. Max Gerson found that patients using centrifugal-type vegetable juicers did not respond to therapy, while those who used a grinder and press did. There are two factors to bear in mind here: centrifugal juicers tend to kill enzymes and the juices are generally nutrient-poor, a good proportion being left in the moist pulp. The test for “live” juice is to see how long it retains its color before it goes “brown.” If you are going to seriously juice, we would recommend a more expensive juicer that triturates (grind into very fine particles) and presses with a slow RPM (keeping enzymes intact and generating no heat) that guarantees you’ll be able to juice even the more fibrous green vegetables and grasses. You will find that it will more than repay itself both in the quantity of juice extracted (a third more in many cases) and in its mineral quality, which can nearly double that from the more traditional juicers. Bottled juices are dead. They have to kill the enzymes in order to preserve juice whether through pasteurization (heat treatment) or common pickling devices such as using whey, which denatures the enzymes.

 

At first, it is essential to understand what an antioxidant is – Antioxidants are chemical substances that convert free radicals to a harmless molecule by donating an electron to the free radical. Antioxidants neutralize free radicals before they can harm our bodies. Free radicals cause damage to our cells.

Many vitamins and minerals are antioxidants but not all antioxidants are equal in nature. Antioxidants serve as a source of electrons that can be provided to free radicals without damaging the cell components. The antioxidant molecules interact with the oxygen free radicals and stop the spread of cancer-causing cells with damaged DNA.

Antioxidants prevent and slow the breakdown of another substance by oxygen. Oxidation is a process that causes damage to our tissues through the work of free radicals.

An antioxidant is a chemical that prevents the oxidation of other chemicals. In our body, nutrient antioxidants such as beta-carotene, vitamin C, lycopene, selenium and vitamin E act as antioxidants.

There are numerous benefits of antioxidants. The best ways to achieve antioxidants is from organic fruits and vegetables.

According to the free radical theory, radicals damage cells in an organism that causes aging. The body naturally circulates many nutrients for their antioxidant properties and creates antioxidant enzymes just for the purpose of controlling free radicals and their chain reactions.

Free radical is a natural byproduct of our body’s metabolism. A number of factors have created an environment that causes free radicals to be overproduced. Smoking, alcohol, air pollution, infection, stress, excessive sunlight, and toxins like radiation and asbestos can increase production of harmful free radicals.

As a whole, antioxidants allows our immune system to fight against flues, viruses, and infections. It reduces the incidences of all types of cancer, prevents glaucoma and macular degeneration, reduces the risk of cholesterol-oxidation and heart disease. Antioxidants delay the normal aging process of our body and even prevents many old age diseases.

There are several thousand antioxidants that are found in various types of plant foods. Each of them has their own mechanism of functioning. Vitamin E, vitamin C, selenium, and beta-carotene are some of the most commonly known antioxidants.

Antioxidants are also sometimes referred to as anti-aging antioxidants because they help to give us youthful skin. As our body uses up the antioxidants to get rid of free radicals, it needs to be replenished from time to time by the intake of foods that are rich in antioxidants.

Foods high in antioxidants include spinach, broccoli, tomato, beets, carrots, cherries, red grapes, berries, papaya, carrots, and kale.

Foods like meat, dairy, sugar, salt, and all processed foods are free radical’s best friends and they thrive on these foods and mutate to cancer…..

Vitamin E is a fat-soluble vitamin that is proven to be the most effective antioxidant and helps to protect the body from the free radicals. Vitamin E is found in many common foods, including wheat germ, nuts, seeds and green leafy vegetables.

Because of the incredible antioxidant powers, beta-carotene has proven to effectively protect against multiple types of cancer, especially targeted at lung cancer. Besides helping to protect from cancer, beta-carotene is especially helpful against vision loss. Beta-carotene also helps the skin and enhances our immunity system. The richest sources of beta-carotene are yellow, orange, and green fruits and vegetables.

Thank you Doug Aka Veganurth

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