Hypertension


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Feeling kinda uneasy after watching a lot of food porn at work today (don’t ask), so thought I would post my own version of food porn and also declare the hot new food trend of 2014 to be:

BRUSSELS SPROUTS!

Okay, so maybe I’m not he first person to declare this, but, I’ve seen this one coming for awhile now. Brussels Sprouts ARE THE NEW/OLD “IT” vegetable. (mark my flippin words)

Ingredients:

1 turn of peanut oil

Butter (optional)

1-2 crushed cloves of garlic

1 package of Brussels sprouts (ends cut off and cut in half)

Low sodium broth (< 300 mg per serving minimum!)

Himalayan Sea Salt (to taste)

Method:

  1. Preheat pan to medium high heat
  2. Pour one turn of peanut oil in the pan and allow to heat up to medium high heat (throw some H2O molecules in the pan to test for “hotness”),  simultaneously throw garlic smashed into pan (remove within a minute of cooking to prevent  spread of “bitter” flavor)
  3. Place Brussels sprouts cut-side down onto heated pan
  4. After halves are placed face down, pour a small amount of low sodium broth into pan, wait for “SIZZLE” and then lower heat and cover for 17 minutes over medium low heat.
  5. Sprinkle some Himalayan sea salt to taste over sprouts
  6. Enjoy!

Here’s the nutritional information for Brussels sprouts in case you are doubting the serious nutritional benefits from these MOFOs:

Brussels Sprouts Nutrient Extraaganza

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Isn’t it still shocking to see how salty it really is though? Check out this slideshow at CNN.

Sadly, what should be a “healthier” fast food item, a bagel, at Dunkin’ Donuts clocks in at over 3,000 mg of sodium! Okay, it is a salt bagel, but, that’s more than a teaspoon of salt people.

More than a day's worth of salt in a bagel!

More than a day’s worth of salt in a bagel!

Here’s a couple of other food ingredients that you may or may not know contain sodium:

Salt or sodium-containing compounds:

  • Monosodium glutamate (MSG)
  • Baking soda (1231 mg of sodium in 1 tsp baking soda)
  • Baking powder (355mg sodium in 1 tsp  double-acting, sodium aluminum sulfate)
  • Disodium phosphate
  • Sodium alginate
  • Sodium nitrate
  • Table Salt (1 tsp has 2,300 mg of sodium)

It’s recommended we try to limit our sodium intake to less than 2300 mg per day, and 1500 mg per day if you have high blood pressure. There are other diseases which require you to go even lower daily, so, it’s a good idea in general to wean ourselves from the taste of added salt.

Someone close to me recently made the decision to go on blood pressure medication. Though medications can definitely help people, there are some “Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension” which might be worth exploring if your physician is willing to let you give it a try.

The website dashdiet.org gives specific instructions on how to implement the eating plan, as does this article in MORE magazine:

Can these help reduce blood pressure?

Can these help reduce blood pressure?

…could keep hypertension at bay? I can honestly say I had never heard that one before, but, today’s LA TImes Health section says this just may be the case.

A quick search on Pubmed, of “eggplant and hypertension” yields only two results. One of which was an in vitro study done last year (meaning it was performed in a petri dish more or less) which concluded that because eggplants contain certain phytochemicals, known as phenolic compounds, they may exert similar activity to not only common blood pressure drugs such as ACE inhibitors, but, also diabetes management drugs known as alpha glucosidase inhibitors.

While these results are definitely encouraging, its hard to apply them to humans. Basically, more clinical trials of eggplant consumption on humans would need to be done in order to warrant an actual recommendation of more than one’s usual intake of eggplants. And indeed, it seems as though there is some ongoing research on the potentially therapeutic value of eggplants. You can find some information on a Phase 1 study on the effects of consumption of eggplant extract capsules on lipid profiles here.

The other Pubmed result explores the traditional medicinal uses of various vegetables, but, does not provide any conclusive evidence that eggplants are directly related to reducing one’s blood pressure. This paper is available at this link.

That being said, eggplant is very low in calories (an entire, 1 1/4 lb unpeeled eggplant only has 132 calories, an impressive 18 grams of fiber, 1260 mg of potassium (an imporant mineral in itself for helping with hypertension), and 121 mcg of folate (also good for the heart).

Bottom Line: The eggplant water is not a proven method of reducing hypertension (and it sounds slightly unpalatable), but, if you like eggplant, it is certainly a great part of any diet. There are diet plans specifically recommended for reducing hypertension. One such diet plan is the DASH diet. This plan places a heavy emphasis on eating LOTS of fruits and vegetables. The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute also give lots of great information on managing high blood pressure through diet. And actually, the DASH diet is a very healthy diet for most people to follow, though it is not specifically for losing weight, it possibly could jump start a weight loss if it is a drastic change to one’s eating habits. Of course, check with your primary care provider before starting any new type of regimen.

References:

Y.-I. Kwon, E. Apostolidis, K. Shetty, In vitro studies of eggplant (Solanum melongena) phenolics as inhibitors of key enzymes relevant for type 2 diabetes and hypertension, Bioresource Technology, Volume 99, Issue 8, May 2008, Pages 2981-2988.

Lans CA. J Ethnomedicines used in Trinidad and Tobago for urinary problems and diabetes mellitus. Ethnobiol Ethnomed. 2006; 2: 45. Published online 2006 October 13.