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

Posts Tagged ‘heart

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”.

Nutritous fruits and vegetables

Nutritious fruits and vegetables

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Good Nutrition for Adults

by Ann Blanton

Your body is the only home that you’ll truly ever own. Treat it like the temple that it is!

The first step to a healthy lifestyle is a well balanced nutritious diet. It doesn’t matter how old you are, if you want to live a life free from diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and most types of cancer, you need to get on the right track and learn healthy nutritional habits. If you have good eating habits, you can save yourself a lot of time visiting the doctor’s office.

People who eat healthy have a higher immune system than someone who has poor eating habits. Proper nutrition and a healthy immune system will keep you strong throughout your entire life time. Your immune system can be affected by many things such as environmental pollutants, pesticides, antibiotics, allergies, inflammation, and chronic fatigue. Healing can take place much sooner with a strong immune system. However, the only way this is impossible is by having proper nutritional health.

Try making small adjustments weekly and cut back on foods that you know can be harmful to your health. Add at least two healthy food items to your shopping list and always stock up on fruits and vegetables. It’s essential to include at least five fruits and veggies into your diet every day. Get rid of all temptation and leave the comfort foods behind. Have you ever heard the saying, “out of sight, out of mind?” Well it’s true; if it’s not in the pantry then you won’t be tempted.

Carbohydrates 

Many foods have carbohydrates and are an excellent source of energy for your body. Learn the difference between the carbohydrates that are good for you versus the ones that are not. If you eat too many carbohydrates at once, it can cause your glucose level to be too high.

Good carbohydrates that are loaded with fiber 

1. Fresh fruits and vegetables in every color, shape and size

2. Whole grains such as brown rice, whole wheat bread and crackers, oatmeal and cereal

3. Dried peas, legumes and lentils. (These are also a great source of protein).

4. Non-fat or low fat dairy items such as milk, cheese, yogurt and margarine. Cook and bake with egg whites or egg substitutes

5. Wheat pasta, wheat flour and sweet potatoes

Carbohydrates to avoid

1. White bread

2. White rice and pasta

3. Fruit juices with sweeteners

4. Cakes, cookies, candy and chips

5. Regular soda

Good sources of protein

1. Lean meats and poulty without the skin

2. Low fat cheese, yogurt and eggs

3. Natural peanut butter and soy products such as tofu

4. Fish

Healthy fats are also heart healthy

1.  Nuts, almonds, walnuts and seeds

2. Fish such as salmon, tuna and mackerel

3. Avocados

4. Olive oil

You don’t have to avoid foods that you crave altogether, just eat them in moderation.

 

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/ I’ve also had my first short story published titled, “Shattered Spirit”, as an anthology in a book titled, “Heartscapes”.

I always appreicate all your comments.

 

Namaste

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Positive vs Negative Stress – What’s the Difference?

by Ann Blanton

In a stressful society, life can throw a curve ball when you least expect it. No matter how hard you try to avoid it, stress will  play a major role in your life. How you handle those situations is entirely up to you. It’s about taking control and not letting stressful circumstances get the upper hand. There are ways to manage those upsetting incidents, but first you have to learn to accept the things you cannot change. Sounds impossible doesn’t it? But, it’s not as complicated as you may think.

The first response you imagine when you think about stress, is usually  a negative reaction. What you don’t know, not all stress is considered bad or harmful.

Take a good long look at your life and get in touch with your feelings and emotions. The goal is to manage your time wisely and make time for what’s important. It’s significant to come to terms with your stress levels and learn how to deal with it head on. Like it or not, it’s a part of life.

When you feel agitated, consciously choose how you’re going to react. You can either freak out or shrug it off. If you don’t learn to control stressful situations and allow your worries to bottle up, it can become destructive  to your body. Take several deep breathes and train your mind to stay calm and relaxed. Speak up. Never be afraid to let others know how or what you’re feeling. It might sound difficult, but with practice, it’s not impossible.

Categories of stress – Characteristics of stress can be divided into four groups. Each type can either be positive or negative. Let’s take a look at how each stage works.

Eustress – This is known as positive stress. You might feel like this after a roller coaster ride or watching a scary movie.

Positive stress produces chemicals known as endorphins and serotonin which provides contentment, satisfaction and exhilaration. Maybe you’ve felt a rush of excitement after a promotion or winning a marathon. As a result of satisfaction, your body physically creates positive stress.

Distress – This is identified as a negative aspect of stress. This type of stress can make you feel angry, discouraged or frightened. Being overwhelmed with distress, can often cause you to feel worried or experience psychological anguish.

The majority of people consider negative stress when they’re in pain, anxious or afraid because an excessive amount of adrenaline is being released into the body. Once the problem has been resolved, the bad stress is replaced with positive stress.

Chronic– This is the most serious type of stress. It’s also known as long term, which can lead to significant health problems such as heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes and cancer. Some causes can be financial, sickness or death.

Sufferers feel as if they have no control over certain situations. The best way to manage chronic stress is to seek medical attention immediately and find out the source of the problem.

Acute – If you feel threatened or afraid, it triggers the ‘fight or flight’ response and kicks your adrenaline into overdrive. It  prepares your body for emergencies. Acute stress is also known as a short term stressor that can be caused by trauma such as car accidents, being chased by a dog, robbery or rape.

There are many sides of stress; we just need to learn how to cope with different stages as they happen.

So how do you cope in stressful situations?

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/

I’ve also just had my first short story titled, “Shattered Spirit”, 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”.

Good Heart Health

You already know that all nuts are good for your health, but when it comes to heart health, the walnut stands out above all the rest. Like all nuts, they have no cholesterol, few carbohydrates and are low in sodium. While they’re great for baking, make fabulous snacks and complement salads, they’re also high in calories and fat, so eating them in moderation is key.

Protect Your Heart

The unsaturated fats that are found in this heart smart nut, both monounsaturated and polyunsaturated are considered “good” fats and can lower LDL, (bad cholesterol) levels, thus, while boosting HDL, (good cholesterol), levels. It’s important to replace unhealthy saturated fats and incorporate walnuts as part of a healthy well-balanced diet. In comparison to other nuts, it only takes about seven walnuts to obtain the benefits from this regal nut.

Omega 3-fatty acids

The rich source of omega-3 fatty acids that are found in walnuts, decrease the risk of heart irregularities, plaque build-up and sudden death. They also contain large quantities of manganese and copper. Manganese is a mineral found in trace amounts in the human body, typically in the bones, liver, pancreas and kidneys. They also have important enzymes and antioxidants that help to fight free radical damage.

Lowering Cholesterol Properties

“Omega-3 fats directly control the size of LDL cholesterol particles in addition to oxidation properties that make the particles less cohesive, reducing the possibility to cause plaque. C-reactive protein (CRP) is noted to be a risk factor for heart disease and other heart problems,” says certified sports nutritionist, Lawrence Sanchez. “Walnuts can lower the risk by increasing the elasticity of arteries, thus reduce inflammation. What’s more, the omega 3’s can also help reduce triglycerides,” he adds. 

Vitamins and Minerals

The vitamins and minerals that are found these succulent nuts are in abundance. Rich supplies include A, B6, C, E calcium, iron and zinc. There are also considerable amounts of potassium, magnesium, selenium, folate and thiamin.

Weight Management

Because this mouth-watering snack is high in fiber, protein and healthy fats, it can help to manage your weight, simply by satisfying your hunger for longer periods. It takes approximately a handful, (30 grams) to satisfy your cravings. The end result is usually eating less food during the day. Furthermore, maintaining a healthy weight can help to keep your heart strong and in good physical shape. This does not mean that a few walnuts will counteract with an unhealthy diet.

The latest studies show that a moderate intake of healthy fats can be the outcome of a successful and long-term weight loss plan.

Nutritional Value

Walnuts contain 185 calories for a one-ounce serving, 18.49 grams of fat, 3.89 carbohydrates and 4.23 grams of protein.

Are you protecting your heart by eating these delectable nuts?

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 just had my first short story published as an anthology in a book titled, “Heartscapes”.

Let’s take a walk

by Ann Blanton

Walking is the easiest and least expensive way to get where you’re going, especially with the price of fuel on the rise. The biggest challenge is to make a commitment and stick with it, so let’s put those hard earned dollars back in our pocket, tie up those sneakers and let’s get moving.

Sedentary Lifestyle

It doesn’t matter how much you weigh, if you live a sedentary lifestyle and have no physical movement, you’re at a higher risk for cancer. This is because inactivity or sitting for long periods of time are linked to increased inflammation and other statistics for chronic diseases like cancer, diabetes and heart disease. Some studies show that walking daily can decrease the risks of developing cancer significantly. 

Benefits

The benefits of walking are endless. Not only does it lower the risk of most diseases, it also gives you more energy, lifts your mood and boosts your immune system.

Let’s take a look at other advantages that walking provides.

  1. Reduces the risk of coronary disease and stroke
  2. Lowers  blood pressure and reduces cholesterol
  3. Increases bone density and prevents osteoporosis
  4. Improves physical and mental well-being

Walking for fitness can vary according to an individual’s age and level of activity. Typically, a brisk walk is best. A simple way to learn to walk briskly is by taking the “talk test”. This means to walk as fast as you can while carrying on a conversation without becoming out of breath. Depending on your fitness level, this might take a few weeks to achieve.

General Health and Longevity

Because walking helps to strengthen your bones, joints have a better range of movement and muscles are more flexible.

Weight Control

It’s recommended to walk briskly at least three times a week for a minimum of thirty minutes if you want to lose weight. For more experienced walkers, a maximum of five days a week for sixty minutes is advisable. Maintaining your weight and fitness level can be accomplished by walking three to four days a week for forty-five minutes.

Tip:

To burn even more calories, don’t forget to swing your arms.

Mental Health

Walking is man’s best medicine! If you’re feeling down, walking can ease the burden and lift your mood. When endorphins are released into the body during activity, it alleviates pain and creates a sense of well-being.

If the shoe fits, wear it!

If walking is something you’re serious about, it’s important to invest in a good pair of walking shoes. If you neglect your feet, you’ll feel discomfort and make it more difficult to walk.

Begin slowly

When beginning a walking program, don’t set unreasonable expectations. Beginners should start slowly and walk every other day. When you begin to feel stronger, than add an extra day or two into your routine. If you can’t walk for long periods of time, don’t get discouraged. As you become more advanced, your distance will gradually increase.

Pick a time and place

Decide what time works best for you. Some people find it enjoyable to walk early in the morning, while others find it a way to relax at the end of a long day. What works best for you? 

Choose a familiar place

It could be something as simple as a walk around the block, a nearby park or a walking path. It’s important to “shake” things up a bit once you’ve become comfortable with your routine. To prevent boredom, you might vary your routine by choosing different places or directions to walk.

Have a  back- up plan   

What do you do when the weather doesn’t permit you to walk outdoors? If it isn’t life threatening, you beat the bad weather, dress accordingly and brave the elements.  What’s your back-up plan?

Stretch before and after

This is important to prevent injury and soreness. It also helps to tone your muscles. Plus, it limbers and conditions the muscles to be long, lean and strong. Conditioned muscles helps you to handle exercise better.

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 just had my first creative story published as an anthology in a book titled, “Heartscapes”.