(Alexes Papadopoli is the Registered Dietitian at Brown’s Your Independent Grocer in Stittsville.)
Let’s talk about high blood pressure. First off – what is it? High blood pressure, also referred to as hypertension, is a common cardiovascular condition that can damage blood vessels and lead to various health problems if left unmanaged.1 While we’ve heard and seen the term before at our doctor’s office, or local pharmacy – many of us are unaware of the importance of managing high blood pressure. So much so that one in five people are living with high blood pressure without even knowing it.2
Fortunately, simple lifestyle changes – such as eating heart healthy foods and getting enough exercise – can make a difference when it comes to preventing and managing high blood pressure, no matter your age. As your local Stittsville Registered Dietitian, here are my top tips for keeping your heart healthy and happy this Hypertension Awareness Month and all year round.
Think about salt – Although your body does require a small amount of sodium to be healthy, too much can lead to elevated blood pressure and increased risk of stroke and cardiovascular disease. Sodium can sometimes be unavoidable, with many processed and packaged goods containing it, but we can make an effort to look for alternatives. Next time you’re grocery shopping, look for the low-sodium version and keep an eye out for “no salt added” products like beans and canned tomatoes.
Consider your fats – Did you know that trans-fats are regulated by the government because of their impact on heart health?3 According to research, trans fats and saturated fats have been linked to heart disease, so limiting your intake of these fats can help with reducing your risk.4 Many of these fats can be found in animal products, like meat and dairy, and processed foods, like baked goods. Making simple changes, like swapping butter for oils rich in unsaturated fats, like olive oil and avocado oil, can make a difference. Next time you’re making a sandwich, opt for nature’s butter – the avocado, which not only contains the unsaturated fat we are familiar with, Omega-3, but is also a source of soluble fibre which can also help to lower cholesterol levels.
Let’s talk about minerals – Our heart is a muscle, so we should treat it as one. Whether it is through physical activity or through nutrition, there are many ways we can get our heart pumping. If you’re looking at foods, minerals, like potassium, magnesium, and calcium, can help to lower blood pressure and regulate our heartbeat. There’s a reason dietitians have been pushing vegetables and fruits for years. Next time you’re building your meal, try to make half of your plate vegetables – your heart will thank you. Another way to add these minerals to our diet is with nuts and seeds. Try sprinkling them on your next salad or oatmeal for an added boost.
Do things that make your heart happy – Nutrition is just one part of our overall health and wellbeing. When thinking about our heart health, it is important to look at our lives holistically. Are we getting enough sleep? How are we managing our stress? Can we find time for physical activity? The bottom line is our heart is integral to our body’s function, so we need to prioritize it. Empower yourself to fit in an activity just for you – like journaling, meditating, or walking – to not only move your heart, but your mood too.
Whether you’re 20 or 60, it is never a bad time to start taking care of your heart. As your local Stittsville Registered Dietitian at Brown’s Your Independent Grocer, I provide a range of services, such as virtual or in-store personalized consultations, meal planning, or take a tour around the grocery store with me. To learn more, book a 15-minute free intro call with me at dietitianservices.ca.
Citrus and Shrimp Salad
If you’re being mindful of the types of fats you’re consuming, this salad is full of heart healthy fat. Between the avocado and walnut oil, your heart will be thanking you, and so will your tummy!
- 2 Large red grapefruits
- 3 tbsp (45 mL) PC® Black Label 100% Pure Roasted Walnut Oil
- 2 tbsp (25 mL) Minced shallots
- 1/2 tsp (2 mL) Each salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 6 Clementines
- Bulb fennel, cored and thinly sliced
- 1 pkg (400 g) PCᴹᴰ Raw Zipperback Responsibly Farmed Jumbo Pacific White Shrimp
- 1 head Boston lettuce, leaves separated
- Avocado, sliced
- Slice top and bottom off each grapefruit; peel with knife removing all white pith. Cut between membranes to release each section into small bowl; transfer sections to large bowl while saving juice in small bowl. Squeeze juice from membranes into the small bowl; pour 1/4 cup (50 mL) juice into a measuring cup (reserve remaining juice for another use). Whisk in oil, shallots, salt and pepper; pour over grapefruit sections.
- Sautee the shrimp in a saucepan.
- Peel clementines and remove white pith. Slice each crosswise into four pieces; add to grapefruit. Gently toss in fennel and shrimp.
- Line serving platter with lettuce leaves; top with shrimp salad. Arrange avocado slices over top along with fennel fronds, if desired.