Sep 3, 2008 at 3:16 pm #1230999
5+ Per Day-Go easy on the Fruit
We all know we should eat more fresh produce, but for those of you not yet in the know, the original plan for launching what is now known as the "5+ a Day" campaign was supposed to be the "9 or 10 Per Day" campaign. The FDA quashed this as too daunting for the average American to get their head around, so they dumbed it down to 5+ a Day.
With that said, the original panel also emphasised that, with the exception of rapidly growing children and convalescing adults, the emphasis of the campaign should be on non-starchy vegetables rather than starchy vegetables and sugary fruit. This was determined to be the optimal intake of plant matter for longer, leaner and healthier living. Fibrous veggies include 'fruits' such as tomatoes, zucchini and bell peppers, plus true vegetables such as onions, broccoli, coriander and spinach (to name just a very few). These vegetables are high in vitamins, minerals and anti-oxidants with a minimum of calorie intake. Getting the same amount of nutrients from fruits more than quadruples the calorie intake.
For instance: good size serving of fresh salsa contains a whopping 150% of your daily vitamin A requirements, 280% of your vitamin C requirements, almost NO sodium, and 800mg of potassium. All this for a mere 90 calories, and it even supplies 7% of your minimum protein requirments. For the same calories you could eat one orange, and get 100% of your minimum vitamin C requirements, but little else (including a total lack of fiber). Or you could eat an apple and get very little other than 90 calories from sugars and a few grams of fiber.
So eat lots and lots of fresh non-starchy veggies if weight control with good nutrition is high on your list of priorities. Pass on the sugary fruits, potaotes, corn, peas, etc…and see how much better you look and feel in just a short time.Sep 4, 2008 at 6:23 am #1449911
That's really interesting about the salsa… of course it stands to reason but I never thought about it before. At least with the chickpea and salsa trail salad I make I won't ever get scurvy… lol.Sep 4, 2008 at 1:13 pm #1449999
Chickpea and salsa trail salad would have to be one of my all time favourite and nutritious dishes. And all that potassium is a great antidote to a lot of store-bought trail foods that are frighteningly high in sodium.Sep 4, 2008 at 3:07 pm #1450027
Sarbar just made this awesome salsa hummus. Maybe you can convince her to post the recipe here. :)Sep 4, 2008 at 3:24 pm #1450032
OK, I'll bite…Sep 4, 2008 at 4:13 pm #1450041
I posted it up :-) It is very potassium rich!Sep 4, 2008 at 5:59 pm #1450055
If you need any more reasons to try a high fresh vegetable diet (pile on the salsa baby) then consider this August 2008 review:
Until recently, humans consumed a diet high in potassium. However, with the increasing consumption of processed food, which has potassium removed, combined with a reduction in the consumption of fruits and vegetables, there has been a large decrease in potassium intake which now, in most developed countries, averages around one third of our evolutionary intake. Much evidence shows that increasing potassium intake has beneficial effects on human health. Epidemiological and clinical studies show that a high-potassium diet lowers blood pressure in individuals with both raised blood pressure and average population blood pressure. Prospective cohort studies and outcome trials show that increasing potassium intake reduces cardiovascular disease mortality. This is mainly attributable to the blood pressure-lowering effect and may also be partially because of the direct effects of potassium on the cardiovascular system. A high-potassium diet may also prevent or at least slow the progression of renal disease. An increased potassium intake lowers urinary calcium excretion and plays an important role in the management of kidney stones and is likely to decrease the risk of osteoporosis. Low serum potassium is strongly related to glucose intolerance, and increasing potassium intake may prevent the development of diabetes that occurs with prolonged treatment with thiazide diuretics. Low serum potassium increases the risk of lethal ventricular heart arrhythmias in patients with ischaemic heart disease, heart failure and left ventricular hypertrophy, and increasing potassium intake may prevent this. The best way to increase potassium intake is to increase the consumption of fruits and vegetables.Sep 4, 2008 at 6:25 pm #1450059
Blackstrap molasses is high in potassium (and iron and calcium).
What about "Gain Fat Tips" for those of us trying to gain a few just-in-case pounds for an upcoming hike?Sep 4, 2008 at 7:09 pm #1450065
Yep! I live on a pretty high potassium diet these days. The nicest side effect besides my blood pressure? I rarely get leg cramps now!Sep 4, 2008 at 8:13 pm #1450071
>What about "Gain Fat Tips" for those of us trying to gain a few just-in-case pounds for an upcoming hike?
No way. My jealousy prevents me from providing you with that info!
Seriously though, have something at bedtime (cottage cheese is ideal) and throw in a middle of the night shake if you're the sort that wakes through the night (try a peanut butter milkshake or chocolate whey and flaxseed oil).Sep 6, 2008 at 8:22 am #1450225
@curtpetersonLocale: Pacific Northwest
What do you consider a high potassium diet? Is there a mg target you shoot for? Also, what kind of blood pressure drops are we talking about?
I know someone who is considering medication for high-normal BP – this is pretty timely info. Thanks!Sep 6, 2008 at 8:36 am #1450227
I just ordered the molasses powder from packit gourmet – the real stuff is too sticky and messy to bring on trips. Might be a good alternative. More Vitamin K! :)Sep 6, 2008 at 12:47 pm #1450242
>What do you consider a high potassium diet? Is there a mg target you shoot for?
The "epidemiological" data, as well as analysis of the typical diet our ancestors ate, indicate that the RATIO of potassium:sodium is more important than total intake. It appears that a 4:1 ratio is optimal, a 1:1 ratio is the minimum you should aim for, and most westerners don't even get close to the lower ratio.
>Also, what kind of blood pressure drops are we talking about?
Significant but not necessarily large changes. A drop of around 10 mm Hg would be considered a lot (and other nutrients like calcium and magnesium are also important). Controlling hypertension through lifestyle changes usually takes more than just one change. Weight loss, reduction of sodium and saturated fats, reduction in high glycemic carbs, alcohol, smoking etc… plus increasing exercise are all part of the plan. Keep in mind, even if your doctor sends you away with perfectly normal 120/80 reading, new guidelines are being considered as it appears what's "normal" may again not be "optimal". For reducing heart and kidney disease risk, optimal BP is closer to 110/70, so most of us could do with improving our diets to reduce BP!Sep 6, 2008 at 12:51 pm #1450243
Oh, and I forgot to mention how stress is the most important thing to minimize to get BP under control. All the other lifestyle and drug changes may not help at all if you live a highly stressful existence! A good general indicator of stress levels IMHO is how much quality sleep you are getting. That's why I love hiking so much. I sleep soooo much better after a hard days walking in fresh air and exhilarating scenery.Sep 6, 2008 at 1:35 pm #1450247Sep 6, 2008 at 5:10 pm #1450259
Allison, you are very right on stress.
The biggest things I have done are:
Eating a whole foods diet (lots of fresh fruit, veggies, whole grains, etc.).
Banning most salt out of my food.
Eating low fat dairy products daily.
Doing yoga – it controls my stress.
And yes, stress is a HUGE issue.
I will never be med free in my life time. I pushed it as far as I could with my family history. Both my parents had severe uncontrolled BP for most of their lives – and their early deaths were due to it.
By maintaining a higher potassium diet I am getting the foods I need – avoiding a diet of heavily processed food. One thing I keep in mind is I often have oranges after dinner, a banana at breakfast.
The good side is I also get plenty o' fiber.
But yeah….for me high BP will always be with me. I can control it, toy with it…..but rarely will I ever get to eat without thinking again. I don't want to be my mother and be on kidney dialysis for 7 years.Sep 7, 2008 at 5:52 am #1450297
I come from a family ridden with heart disease and diabetes. My blood pressure and cholestoral are usually good. However, last year when I found out I was pregnant my bp was 130/95 at the first doctor's visit. Later I miscarried not because of the high bp though. By the time I hit the emergency ward my bp had spiked to 152/110. The high bp was a sign of what was already going on in my body.
Anyway to make a long story short… I felt like crap. The bp stayed high until my body managed what was going on. I could hear my heartbeat in my ears, I was getting headaches, etc. Of course the stress levels were high. When I got checked a few weeks after my body had finished dealing with things… my bp was back down to 120/80. Whew! I knew it had… I could feel the difference. What this did was remind me that I never want to have a blood pressure problem.
This is why I like making my own backpacking foods – I control what I ingest. Bryan, Tobias and I eat a well rounded diet that generally follows the Canada Food Guide.
Papaya, lentils, swiss chard, lima beans and winter squash are all great sources of potassium. So are crimini mushrooms.Sep 7, 2008 at 11:19 am #1450323
I would echo the post above about sodium/potassium ratio versus a high potassium diet. Don't go increasing your potassium in your diet just because you want to lower your BP. There are better ways to reduce your blood pressure such as an overall healthy diet in line with AHA standards and participating in a healthy level of exercise that meets your target heart rate.
There are four major electrolytes involved in cardiac function. Those are calcium, sodium, potassium, and chloride. Calcium, potassium, and sodium are the big ones. Calcium kicks things off and sodium and potassium are the main players in depolarization and repolarization of your heart muscle. A class of drugs known as calcium channel blockers can reduce the effect of calcium and lower your BP and heart rate by controlling calcium's role in heart muscle contraction. A low sodium diet can help control BP through it's role in the cycle but mainly through the fact that water follows sodium and low sodium will decrease intravascular volume. Also keep in mind that a low sodium diet probably won't be as beneficial for you unless you have some renal (kidney) impairment because your kidneys do a pretty good job of controlling sodium balance. Having a NORMAL potassium level is important to heart function because of it's role in muscle contraction. Increasing potassium intake probably won't benefit you unless your potassium is already low due to dietary insufficiencies or certain medications such as loop diuretics (i.e. lasix/furosemide). A high potassium can be just as dangerous as a low potassium but it is unlikely going to become high unless you have renal impairment.
If you don't understand all of that blabber the best thing to remember is that keeping a healthy balance of electrolytes is more important than increasing or decreasing the intake of a specific electrolyte. The only instance you would want to do that is if it is already out of balance and you are doing it to keep it in balance. Having your blood levels tested at regular intervals with regular check ups with your physician or nurse practitioner is the best way to regulate this.
You guys have already listed some foods that are high in potassium; mainly fruits and vegetables. Bannanas and oranges are the big ones and apple and orange juices are big as well. If you need to increase your potassium intake and/or decrease your sodium intake a good way is to substitute potassium salt for sodium salt in your diet.
A low BP lifestyle is better than a low BP diet and the AHA is a great place to get a lot of good information on that.
120/80 is now considered pre-hypertension and 110/70 is preferred. Generally those with diabetes will have higher BPs and less than 130/80 is a pretty good place to be. These standards change frequently.
Hope that helps.Sep 7, 2008 at 4:33 pm #1450357
Beware fake salt or "low salt" salt. That stuff is bad!!!! It can mess very, very badly with certain medications. Always, always let your Dr know you use it!
Look, we get adapted to high salt. We don't need what an average American takes in daily.
Don't use fake salt! Eat good foods, if you need flavor add lemon juice, spices, herbs and pepper. Within weeks most food tastes overly salty.
The point is – our kidneys do process sodium – but give them too much work (heavy sodium consumption and uncontrolled BP) and you run the risk of late life kidney issues. My mother's kidneys failed directly to an unhealthy diet and uncontrolled BP.
If one studies the DASH diet you can easily see that yes, we don't need all the salt we think we do. One can live quite nicely on 1500 mg a day. And backpack.Sep 7, 2008 at 5:05 pm #1450362
>Don't use fake salt! Eat good foods, if you need flavor add lemon juice, spices, herbs and pepper.
Mrs Dash….YUMSep 7, 2008 at 6:36 pm #1450374
From Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2005…Sep 8, 2008 at 7:01 am #1450422
I noticed that the link you posted suggests less than 2300 mg sodium a day whereas Health Canada suggests 1500 mg a day but no more thatn 2300 mg. Seems like our health systems are on the same page so to speak.Sep 8, 2008 at 12:40 pm #1450457
Yes, the American recommendations have different amounts for different ethnicities or people with already existing disease. eg African Americans are recommended to keep it down to 1500mg per day. So its really just a fine-tuned version of the Canadian (or maybe we could say the Canadian recommendations are a simplified version of the American)???
Today I was watching what I call "the ritualised abuse of fruit". I see this every day at lunchtime on the caff…have a nice calorie dense and nutrient poor lunch, then chase it with three pieces of fruit that you struggle to get down because you are now quite full (has to be the obligatory apple, orange and banana). You do this because everyone knows fruit is good for you. Now, if you had done it the other way around, ie eat three pieces of fruit first, then if you are still hungry eat SOME of your lunch (but stop before you are stuffed, or just bring a smaller lunch), you might be onto a winning diet. But to force up to 300 more calories into your full gullet because someone has told you you must eat your fruit is a bad idea IMHO.
This also happens at many dinner tables. Eat until you're full, then add in a big serve of fruit salad for dessert because it's "healthy". Then go to bed on a very full tummy and let all those calories go into fat storage!
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