Ann Blanton Let's talk health, fitness, nutrition and everything in between

Posts Tagged ‘blood

Healthy fats to lower your cholesterol

Cholesterol lowering properties

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Lower your cholesterol without medication

by Ann Blanton

Your doctor just phoned with the numbers for your cholesterol. You’ve been doing everything to keep your numbers in check with good nutrition, exercise, good sleep habits and minimal stress. So what gives?

Maybe you’re a smoker or consume alcohol on a regular basis; if this is the case, it’s time to ‘kick’ the habit. High cholesterol is also a condition that’s heredity, so if it runs in your family, it doesn’t matter how good your health habits are, you’re still at risk.

Let’s take a look at some ideas to help lower your levels without taking prescription medications. There’s no guarantee you’ll lower your cholesterol by following these steps; so  follow your doctor’s advice and do whatever he tells you.

Lifestyle changes

It’s crucial to pay special attention to your diet. You should allow at least five recommended servings of fruits and vegetables each day. You’ll want to maintain a diet that is made of 2/3 fruits and vegetables, and 1/3 of other foods. Cholesterol lowering foods such as avocados, onions, garlic, shiitake mushrooms, oat bran, olive oil, chili peppers, fatty fish including salmon and tuna, flax seed and beans such as black, kidney, pinto and  navy, play an essential role in lowering LDL and sometimes raising HDL levels.

Exercise

You already know that exercise is the best way to a healthy lifestyle. Specialists have reported that thirty minutes of brisk walking three times a week can help reduce cardiovascular disease, heart attack and stroke. That should be enough to get your motor up and running. Plus, it’s fun, easy and no gym membership is necessary. All you need is a good pair of walking shoes.

Nutrition

Good nutrition doesn’t have to be as difficult as it sounds. A few simple tips might be all you need. Eat a diet that is rich in good fats such as salmon, nuts and olive oil. Avoid foods containing saturated and trans fats such as lard, margarine and processed packaged snacks. These foods include, chips, cookies and baked goods.  Saturated fats consist of fatty meats, whole milk, cream and cheese. You don’t have to cut out all the fats,  just the unhealthy ones.

Sleep habits

Good sleep habits are a top priority to help fight infection, maintain good heart health and longevity. “Sleep deprivation often leads to bad food choices and snacking,” says cardiologist Frank Pearl. If you’re sleep deprived, it can cause the overproduction of insulin which causes the body to make more cholesterol.

Fish oil and heart disease

It’s time to discover the truth about fish oil. Does it prevent heart disease and lower cholesterol? Let’s take a look at the facts.  A diet that is rich in omega threes, including salmon, sardines, mackerel and cold water fish, will reduce the development of heart disease according to some researchers. This is only because they’ve been investigating fatty acids in the form of fish oil supplements.

Although fish is known to decrease heart disease, it’s unknown if fish oil supplements have the same results. Then again, fish oil can reduce certain heart possibilities. Fish oil has been found to decrease certain blood fats called triglycerides, raise HDL, the good cholesterol and thin the blood. This is why eating fish helps to prevent heart attacks.

Stress and Cholesterol

Stress is a significant factor that often increases the affect of unhealthy lifestyle choices. These behaviors involve poor eating habits, inactivity and smoking, all of which are linked to high cholesterol. Usually all individuals have some kind of stressful situations in their life, but major stressful events can be difficult to avoid and eventually lead to poor health.

So, rather than going through the drive through at McDonald’s why not grab a salad instead. Your heart will thank you.

I’ve had many articles published at Fitness Plus Magazine. Here’s the link to view them if you want to check them out. http://fitplusmag.com/magazine/author/annblanton/  Currently, I also had my first short story published as an anthology in a book titled, “Heartscape”.

As always, I appreicate all your comments.

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Got Milk!

                        Got Milk?

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Milk does the body good

by Ann Blanton

As children we were told to drink milk because it helps to build strong bones and teeth. But, as adults, we don’t think it still applies, so we have the tendency to slack off. This couldn’t be further from the truth; simply because this creamy white fluid is a natural source of vitamin D and calcium.

An important mineral called calcium help to maintain strong bones and muscles, including the most vital muscle of the body – the heart. Without it, the body will take calcium from your bones, which is the only other source that it has. It can also put you at risk for thin and brittle bones later in life. It takes one single cup to get one third of your daily calcium requirements.

There are many health reasons why you can benefit from vitamin D. Let’s take a look at some of those causes.

1. Vitamin D provides calcium balance in the body that can prevent osteoporosis and arthritis.

2. It also regulates blood pressure, reduces stress and tension.

3. Relieves aches and pains by reducing muscle spasms

4. Helps fight against depression.

5. It also aids in the secretion of insulin.

To reap the benefits, any amounts will suffice. However, according to experts, three eight ounce glasses daily will provide you with all the calcium you need, plus seventy- five percent of vitamin D. This tasty wellness drink provide important nutrients from protein which include vitamin A, B12, D, potassium, phosphorous, riboflavin and niacin.

The importance of these vitamin include:

Vitamin A – Facilitates the immune system, normal vision and good skin.

B -12 –  Assists healthy red blood cells and nerve tissue.

Vitamin D– Helps in the absorption of calcium.

Niacin – It’s important for the significance of the nervous system. It also keeps enzymes functioning normally and helps the body process sugars and fat.

Potassium – Helps to keep a good blood pressure

Phosphorus and Riboflavin – Strengthens bones and gives you energy

Disease Prevention – Osteoporosis

It’s crucial to build strong bone mass during childhood and throughout adolescence, in order to prevent osteoporosis.  Although milk is the preferred source of calcium for overall bone health, there are other ways to stop bone loss. These tips contain:

1. A healthy lifestyle of no smoking or the intake of alcoholic beverages.

2. A balanced diet rich in calcium and vitamin D.

3. Weight bearing and resistance training exercises

4. Bone density testing

Memory Loss – Vitamin B-12 is an important key factor to maintain the nervous system. Some scientists have discovered that milk has the best source of B-12 that can decrease the damage to the brain. Studies show that by drinking two cups daily, can protect against memory loss, dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

Diabetes – Some studies show that milk may lower the risk of type 2 diabetes in middle aged or older women.

More diseases – Other findings such as chronic diseases like coronary heart disease, stroke and colorectal cancer have also declines due to the consumption of milk.

Weight Loss – New research shows that milk can also help fight against the battle of the bulge. Two glasses of milk each day can help you drop those unwanted pounds. Typically, adults who have consumed the highest amounts of calcium and vitamin D, lost an average of twelve pounds over a period of time.

Beauty benefits – Hair, Nails and Skin

Research has discovered that the essential vitamins found in cow’s milk can provide, healthy, beautiful, shiny locks. The proteins and lipids work to strengthen hair, while the calcium promotes hair growth and aids in hair loss.

Nails – Fingernails need the proper nutrition to grow just like the rest of your body. Calcium is one of the minerals that can help. Although calcium may support healthy nail growth, it will not help them grow faster.

Skin – Vitamin A is an excellent source for good eyesight, but it also tackles skin problems like wrinkles and pigmentation changes. Because milk is high in hormones, if you’re acne prone, you might need to reduce your intake.

Whole milk is also high in fat and calories, therefore, if you’re watching your weight, you can switch to the low- fat version.

Stop by often. I always appreciate all your comments.

I’ve had many articles published at Fitness Plus Magazine. Here’s the link if you want to check them out. http://fitplusmag.com/magazine/author/annblanton/   I’ve also had my first creative story published as an anthology in a book titled, “Heartscape”.

Don’t worry, be happy!

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Coping strategies for stress

by Ann Blanton

In today’s world stress is an important concern for just about everyone. With unemployment at an all time high, gas prices on the rise, and food costs soaring through the roof, most people even with a two household income are barely scraping by. The issue of how to stay healthy in a society that’s constantly changing is often a question of how to cope with stress. Undeniably, the major source for stress is life.

So how is stress defined?  Often stress determines the emotional and physical endeavor that is caused by our response to pressure from the outside world.  It’s a physical and psychological reaction from a source that’s a disruptive or stimulating event.

So what can you do to stop the vicious cycle of stressors in our lives?

Unfortunately, eliminating all stress related issues from your life is virtually impossible. The good news however, is there are ways you can reduce stressful situations in daily living.

What are the secrets of stress reduction?  Regrettably, there are no secrets. It basically depends on the individual and how they cope with certain situations. Sometimes you have to learn techniques to turn a negative into a positive. Let’s take a look at a few example.

Acceptance –The first and most important rule is to learn acceptance. Learn to change the things you can control and accept the things you cannot. Then move on.

Be positive – As difficult as this may seem, your attitude affects how you handle most stressful situations. It also affects how you handle yourself. “The person who has a positive outlook has learned some valuable life skills. They’ve learned to edit their thoughts. They’ve also learned that they have the power to choose their attitude rather than depending on circumstances to dictate how they will feel,” says expert and life coach Levya Braman.

Those who are optimistic are able to cope more effectively. If you turn a negative into a positive, eventually, situations will turn out to your advantage. Another approach is to stay away from those who are always negative.

Exercise regularly – Working out on a daily basis helps to get your endorphins pumping and your blood circulating. It also creates a natural high and is the key to happiness. It’s difficult to be in a bad mood after a good workout.

Diet – Eating a healthy nutritious diet is not only good for the body; it’s also good for the soul. After all, you’re good eating habits should become a healthy way of life. No more yo-yo syndromes or roller coaster rides of ups and downs.

Sleep – It’s important to get plenty of restful sleep. It’s not necessarily the quantity of sleep that you get, as much as the quality.

Balance – There are three major components of keeping your body in perfect balance. These factors include exercise, good nutrition and restful sleeping patterns. Practice these habits to optimize these elements for your body, mind and lifestyle.

Laughter – Laughter is definitely life’s best medicine. There’s nothing like having a good laugh to brighten your mood and lift your spirit. Do whatever it takes to comprise laughter into your lifestyle, whether it’s telling a joke or watching a funny movie or your favorite sitcom. When was the last time you had a good belly laugh?

So what do you do to relieve stressful situations in your life?

If you take the time to practice all of the above, everything else will naturally fall into place.

I’ve had many articles published at Fitness Plus Magazine. Here’s the link to view them if you want to check them out. http://fitplusmag.com/magazine/author/annblanton/  Currently, I’ve had my first short story published as an anthology in a book titled, Heartscape

Yummy low-fat pecan waffles

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Trimming your midriff is only one of the rewards from eating this satisfying snack

Pecans are a rich-flavored, buttery treat containing very few carbohydrates and no cholesterol or sodium. According to the new dietary guidelines to help slim down your waistline, four or five weekly servings are recommended. Other ways pecans can benefit your health include boosting brainpower, lowering cholesterol and improving heart health. Let’s take a closer look at each health-promoting benefit.

Boosting brainpower

Pecans contain vitamin E — a natural antioxidant that provides primary elements for neurological protection. It also contains omega-3 fatty acids that promote normal and healthy brain function. Researchers suggest regular consumption can protect against cell damage, enhance brainpower and help fight against diseases such as dementia and Alzheimer’s.

Lowering cholesterol

The healthy, monounsaturated fats, vitamins, minerals, nutrients and antioxidants found in this tasty nut could be just what the doctor ordered to help lower cholesterol. You don’t need to go nuts; you only need a handful to increase HDL, good cholesterol, while decreasing LDL, or bad cholesterol.

Controlling weight

Nuts have always been given a bad rap because of the high fat content, but studies show that the high amounts of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats found in nuts can promote weight loss. Because they’re healthy fats, you’ll feel full longer and not be as tempted to reach for the unhealthy fats found in junk food.

Supports heart health

Heart disease is considered the number-one killer in the country. Nutrition research has discovered by eating one ounce of nuts on a daily basis, you’re less likely to have cardiovascular disease. This crunchy snack can help reduce blood clots that can often lead to fatal heart attacks, thus improving the health of the lining of the arteries. Although the Food and Drug Administration doesn’t have proof that nuts reduce the risk of heart disease, they suggest the evidence to the food companies.

Now that you know all the benefits that this flavorful snack provides, go nuts for pecans. Grab a handful and reap the delicious benefits.

Nutritional facts and information – This healthy nut provides more than 19 vitamins and minerals including calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, vitamin A, folic acid, zinc and several of the B vitamins. Calories per serving size for 20 halves are 196; total fat is 20.4 grams. A serving has zero carbohydrates, no cholesterol or sodium and 2.6 grams of protein.

Pecans are no longer just for baking pies and cakes. You can add pecans to any of your favorite breads, casseroles and salads. The next time you make pancakes, toss in a few pecans for an additional fabulous flavor.

If you’re looking for a new pecan recipe to start your day, here’s one you’re sure to enjoy.

Yummy low-fat pecan waffles

1 and 1/4 cups wheat flour

1/4 cup wheat bran

2 and 1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1 whole egg

1 egg white

1 and /2 cups fat-free milk

2 tablespoons canola oil

1/2 cup chopped pecans

In a large bowl, combine the flour, bran and  baking powder. Using another bowl, combine the egg, egg white, milk and oil; add to the dry ingredients. Fold in pecans.

Add mixture into a pre-heated waffle iron until golden brown.

I’ve had many articles published at Fitness Plus Magazine. Here’s the link to view them if you wish to check them out. http://fitplusmag.com/magazine/author/annblanton/ I also just had my first short story published as an anthology in book titled, Heartscapes”.

Stretching for good health

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On Your Mark, Get Set, Stretch!

Are you like most people when they first begin to exercise? The morning after, you’re muscles are so sore, you can hardly roll out of bed. You feel as if you’ve already been kicked to the curb and the day hasn’t even started. If you haven’t already figured out the solution, I’ll tell you. The answer is stretching before and after your workout.

Gentle stretching prior to activity is beneficial to warm up cold muscles and helps to prevent pulled or torn muscles. The post workout stretch aids in recovery and avoids injury. Neglecting to do so can make a world of difference between sore muscles and fatigue or increased energy and stronger muscles. Stretching shapes the muscles, making them long and lean and removes the lactic acid.

Now that you understand the importance of stretching, let’s talk about some of the benefits. 

Improves flexibility and range of motion

As you age, simple everyday tasks such as tying your shoes or picking something up from off the floor can often become challenging. Regular stretching can elongate your muscles and make daily chores much easier to achieve.

Enhances circulation

Stretching promotes circulation of blood to the muscles and joints, which in turn bring nutrients to the cells and helps to remove waste. 

Develops good posture

Stretching helps keep your muscles from becoming tight and sore, which in turn, allows for better posture and fewer aches and pains.

Relieves stress, anxiety and fatigue

Tense muscles are often accompanied by stress. Stretching relaxes those muscles and brings you a sense of well-being and relief.

Decreases risk from injury

When your muscles and joints are tight, stretching before and after a workout, loosens and protects them from becoming painful after exercise.

Now that you know the advantages of stretching, let’s practice a few techniques.

Calf

This is the muscle that runs along the back of the lower leg. Stand at arm’s length from a wall. Put one foot behind the other. The right knee should be straight and the right heel positioned on the floor as you slowly bend the left leg forward. Always hold your back straight and your hips forward. 

Hamstring

Your hamstring runs along the back of your upper leg. Lie on the floor, placing one leg against the wall. Relax your heel alongside the wall and bend your knee slightly. Gently straighten your leg until you feel a stretch along the back of your thigh.

Quadriceps

The quads run along the front of your thigh. Standing next to a wall for support, gently grasp your ankle. Pull your heel up and back until you feel a stretch in the front of your thigh. Hold your stomach in tight and keep your knees together.

Shoulders

Bring your left arm above or below your elbow and hold gently. Repeat with your right arm.

Neck

Bend your head forward and gently to the left. Do the same thing on the right. Hold to a comfortable position.

Warm-up

Always prepare your body for what is about to come. Remember to stretch cold muscles to prevent your risk of injury. Don’t rush stretching. Take things slow and easy. 

Breathe

Never hold your breath! Inhale slowly as you begin your stretch and exhale as you complete it.

Cool down

The cool down is just as important as stretching because it gradually brings your heart rate down without shocking your body. It also helps to relax your muscles before stretching takes place. 

Tips:

1. If it hurts, don’t do it! Hold each stretch for at least thirty to sixty seconds. If you feel pain or discomfort, back off.

2. Never bounce while you’re stretching because it can cause injury to your muscle tissue.

3. If you have a chronic medical condition or an injury, seek medical advice from a professional. Modify stretching is always advisable.

4. If you don’t exercise regularly, take a few minutes to stretch your body every morning and again before going to bed to maintain flexibility.

5. Make a habit to stretch daily and your body will thank you.

I would love to hear your feedback, so send me all your comments.

I’ve had many articles published at Fitness Plus Magazine. Here’s the link to view them if you want to check them out. http://fitplusmag.com/magazine/author/annblanton/ Currently, I just had my first short story titled, “Shattered Spirit”, published as an anthology in a book titled, “Heartscapes”.