Saint Agnes Medical Center

SPR 2018

Spirit of Women magazine is a national publication presented to women by hospitals and their physicians. The magazine provides up-to-date, evidence-based healthcare information and promotes our hospitals as leaders in women's health excellence.

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11 11 w w w . s a m c . c o m S P R I N G 2 0 1 8 H E A LT H Y S P I R I T The AHA recommends that people consume no more than 1,500 milligrams (just under ¾ teaspoon) of sodium per day for healthy blood pressure levels. Added sugars Added sugars don't have any nutritional benefits, but the extra calories can easily lead to weight gain. Being overweight or obese makes your heart work harder, increasing your risk for high blood pressure. Not only that but excess sugar—even if you're not overweight—increases triglycerides. The AHA recommends no more than 100 calories of added sugar (6 teaspoons) for most women and for men, 150 calories (9 teaspoons) per day. Soft drinks, candy, sugary cereals, desserts and fruit drinks are common food culprits. Dr. Bennett says soda is one of the worst. "If you give people a couple of soft drinks, you can see a temporary spike in their blood pressure," he says. There's a wide range of added sugars in processed foods. Read nutritional labels and look for names like maltose, sucrose, high fructose corn syrup, molasses, cane sugar and raw sugar. These are all added sugars you'll want to avoid. If you must drink soda, try to reduce the amount you drink each week and go for sugar-free instead. Other ways to cut back: Get rid of the sugar bowl altogether; use fruit, like strawberries and bananas, to sweeten cereal and oatmeal; experiment with spices such as cinnamon and ginger to up the flavor of foods without the sugar. Sodium You've heard it time and time again—a high-sodium diet is bad for your heart. The AHA recommends that people consume no more than 1,500 milligrams ( just under 3 / 4 teaspoon) of sodium per day for healthy blood pressure levels. But most Americans take in over 3,400 milligrams—more than twice the recommended serving. So where does all this sodium come from? "A majority of the sodium we get, at least 75 percent, is from processed foods, prepackaged foods and eating at restaurants," Dr. Bennett says. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), foods like deli meat, canned soups, pizza, breads and rolls and pasta dishes are some of the biggest salt-heavy offenders. The good news is that eating natural foods—that is, unprocessed—is the simplest way to cut sodium from your diet. "It's very hard to eat too much sodium if you eat natural foods," Dr. Bennett says. "The numbers aren't high at all." Salt substitutes, fresh herbs and spices, garlic, citrus and vinegars can help kick the flavor of your foods up a notch, sans the saltshaker. EAT THIS Instead of sugar, use fruit, like strawberries and bananas, to sweeten cereal and oatmeal. TRY THIS Salt substitutes such as fresh herbs and spices, garlic, citrus and vinegars can help flavor your food. Published with permission from Saint Agnes partner Sharecare.com, a leading health and wellness website created by the founder of WebMD. Alcohol While moderate drinking can lower stress and blood pressure levels, overdoing it will have the opposite effect. One to two drinks a day for men and one drink a day for women is considered moderate. One drink is considered 12 ounces of beer, four ounces of wine or 1.5 ounces of 80-proof liquor. Excessive drinking increases your risk for high blood pressure, alcoholism, stroke and obesity. Dr. Bennett says that the problem with drinking too much is two-fold: "If you overdo it, your blood pressure will go up right when you drink and it goes up over time. There's an acute effect and then there's a longstanding effect." The important thing is to maintain a healthy diet the majority of the time. Splurging while you're on vacation isn't going to give you high blood pressure, but a steady diet of poor nutritional choices will. "The effect of high blood pressure, high cholesterol or high blood sugar take years and years of chronic elevation to cause damage," Dr. Bennett says. "If your blood pressure is under control, your blood sugar is under control and your diet is under control the vast majority of the time, then you shouldn't stress about your blood pressure going up every so often." 11

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