Healthy Changes To Make Today

If you’re like me, it seems like it was only yesterday that you were a 20-something who could eat whatever she wanted, stay up until the wee hours of the morning and take a flight of stairs like it was nothing. Today, it's considerably harder to feel energetic, fresh and ready to scale heights. As you age, staying healthy seems like it’s always just outside your grasp. The thing is, it’s actually right in front of you: You just have to take it!

Whether you want to lose 30 pounds, have more energy for your grandkids or not have to take a breather after hiking to balcony-level seats, there are plenty of small changes you can start making today to feel better. Here are two of the most important.

Get Your Beauty Rest

I can’t overstate the importance of a good night’s sleep. When you’re tucked in tight and dreaming, your body is repairing, rebuilding and rejuvenating itself from head to toe.

As an adult, you need at least seven hours of beauty sleep each night. That's beauty not just for your complexion but also for your brain. When you fall short of those 7 hours, your body and mind rebel. In addition to feeling groggy and slow, inadequate sleep can lead to a variety of health issues, no matter how fit you are. For example, the risk of both heart attack and stroke increase for adults who don’t get enough sleep.

If, despite your best intentions, falling asleep is an issue for you, there are several ways to make trundling off to dreamland easier:

  • Get into the routine of going to bed at roughly the same time every night. Set an alarm on your phone if you have to.

  • Keep screens out of your bedroom. The light given off by many electronic devices is a one-way ticket to Insomnia Town, Population: You.

  • Try a sleep app. It seems like every day there’s a new app designed to help you fall asleep. I’m partial to the Sleep Stories on the Calm app.

Make Eliminating Stress a Priority

As women, we’re often expected to take care of everybody else. We’re mothers, daughters, best friends and CEOs. We run companies and households. We cook. We clean. We — well, you get the drift. The majority of women are subjected to an incredible number of stressors. Meanwhile, as caretakers, we may feel guilty if we take a moment to look after ourselves.

That line of thinking needs to stop. Over time, constant stress can lead to an array of health problems, including depression, ulcers, stroke, high blood pressure, heart disease, IBS and migraines. It also increases your likelihood of obesity.

If reading the above paragraph stressed you out, don’t worry. Small changes can yield big, healthy results. Making as little as 10-15 minutes per day to relax and have fun can put a huge dent in your stress levels. Those 10 minutes don’t have to be spent in silent meditation, either. For me, taking a break often entails one or more of the following:

  • Reading a magazine (the more celebrity gossip, the better)

  • Going for a walk

  • Watching an episode of “comfort food” TV

  • Listening to music

  • A hot bath, heavy on the rosemary oil

  • A glass of wine, preferably red

  • Playing a quick game or two on my iPad

If nothing else, check in with yourself often and take a few deep breaths. Self-care should be a priority in your life, not an indulgence.

Getting plenty of sleep and taking time each day to de-stress are just two of many small modifications you can make to improve your overall health. Even better, they’re two changes you can make today.

6 Reasons Why I Limit My Diet Soda Intake

There used to be a time where I started every day with a cold, refreshing diet soda.

Or two.

OK, fine. Sometimes three.

I thought nothing of it. The caffeine helped me get going in the morning, and I figured it wouldn’t stain my teeth like I feared coffee would. Most of all, it wasn’t regular soda. How bad could it be?

Turns out pretty bad. While drinking a diet soda is still better for you than drinking a calorie-dense regular soda, it’s still not great for your body. While I haven’t totally given up diet soda, here are six reasons why I only pop the top on one every now and then.

1. Diet Soda Can Disrupt Your Metabolism

Diet sodas are powered by artificial sweeteners. On the one hand, they’re great because they don’t contain calories. On the other hand, they’re chemicals. As such, they can be a catalyst for inflammation and put stress on your GI system, which may lead to metabolic syndrome, diabetes and other metabolism-related health problems.

2. It May Be Bad for Your Gut Bacteria, Too

We’ve all seen the commercials with Jamie Lee Curtis. You know your tummy needs good bacteria to reduce bloating and keep things moving. The thing is, maintaining a robust microbiome is essential to many more of your body’s networks, including your immune system and your brain. Recent studies have shown that the artificial sweeteners found in diet soda can change, or even kill, that good gut bacteria.

3. It’s Downright Addictive

From the caffeine content to the teeny-tiny bubbles, there are several reasons why diet soda can be habit-forming. The biggest factor, however, is the use of artificial sweeteners. In addition to tasting sweet, which is something most people enjoy (obviously!), they can cause your body to grow physically addicted to them.

Fake sugar is actually considerably sweeter than real sugar, so when you down a diet soda, your body gets a massive hit of sweetness — and it wants more. That may mean another diet soda, or it may mean that ice cream in the freezer.

The more sweetness you soak up, the more you need to satiate your sweet tooth. Eventually, an orange won’t cut it anymore; you need orange sherbet instead, and you’re back in the freezer again.

Artificial sweeteners may cause you to crave carbs, too. The fact that a diet soda tastes extremely sweet but doesn’t provide any calories throws your brain for a loop and may cause it to seek out calorie-dense foods to compensate.

If you’re sensing a heavy trend here, you’re not alone. Researchers have found that diet soda drinkers tend to weigh more than people who opt for another calorie-free beverage.

4. It’s Bad for Your Bone Density

As we age, fear of breaking a hip seems clichéd. If you regularly consume diet soda, however, it may actually cause a decrease in your hip bone density thanks to its phosphoric acid.

5. It’s Bad for Your Teeth

Remember how I thought diet soda was better for my teeth than coffee? I was wrong. Whether it’s regular or diet, consistent soda drinking will erode your enamel.

6. It Offers No Wellness Benefits

Sure, you could make the argument that you’re cutting calories because you’re imbibing diet soda instead of regular soda. Then again, you could also switch to water or tea, both of which will hydrate you better without chucking sodium, phosphoric acid, artificial coloring and artificial sweeteners into your system on a regular basis.

If you’re not ready to give up diet soda cold turkey, consider drinking fewer ounces each day. Since I began limiting my diet soda intake, I’ve felt like a leaner and cleaner version of myself. My water intake has skyrocketed, and both my digestive system and my skin have reaped the rewards of being well-hydrated. Now the only drink I crave is the tea I haven’t tried yet.

Get Creative With These Delicious Vegetarian BBQ Ideas

The words "vegetarian" and "BBQ" don't naturally flow together for most people, but they don't have to be mutually exclusive. For many people, their first thought when they hear "vegetarian BBQ" is fake meat, which often doesn't grill very well, anyway. The thing is, the best vegetarian BBQ items are fruits and veggies, and they're not only for people who don't eat meat! Add a few of these items to your next grilling session and

Grilled Corn

Grilled corn is a classic summer food. It also happens to be vegetarian because, well, it's corn. The secret to beautiful, perfectly roasted corn that isn't burnt to a crisp is brining. That's right. Soak the ears (husks and all) in a tall stockpot filled with salty water for a few hours before grilling time. When it's time to cook them, shake off the excess water, and carefully lay them on the grates. The soaked husks will help the corn steam and roast to perfection without scorching too much. When the ears are done, peel back the husks and slather the corn in butter and seasoning salt or chili powder. If you're serving grilled corn to vegans, try olive oil instead of butter.

Fruit and Veggie Kabobs

These are pretty self-explanatory. You skewer some fruits and some veggies, and you grill them. The key is figuring out which flavors go well together. You can't go wrong with red bell peppers, onion, and pineapple. Or try strawberries and peach or mango chunks with blackberries or kiwi pieces. If you're using wooden or bamboo skewers, soak them first so they'll be less likely to burn on the grill.

Grilled Peaches

Try grilling peaches at your next BBQ, and summer will never be the same. This craveable delicacy is extremely simple to put together. All you need is halved peaches and a little bit of olive oil. You just brush the peaches with the oil and lay them on a medium-hot grill. Cook them for about five minutes on each side, then take them off and serve them plain, with ice cream, or however else you see fit.

Portobello Mushrooms

This is the closest thing to fake meat you'll find in this list. Grilled portobellos are delicious on their own, but they also make for decent sandwich filling. Before you cook them, whisk up a basting liquid of olive oil, lemon juice, balsamic vinegar, garlic, salt, and pepper. You'll sometimes see this referred to as a marinade, but you don't want to soak your mushrooms the way you would with a true marinade. Simply brush the mixture on both sides before tossing the portobellos on the hot grill. Cook four or five minutes per side, and then serve them on hamburger buns with all the fixings.

Whether you're entertaining vegetarians at your next backyard BBQ or just trying to add fruits and vegetables to your typical cookout menu, these recipes should get you started. Once you discover how easy it is to grill delicious appetizers, desserts, and side dishes, you'll likely come up with even more ideas for incorporating your favorite fruits and vegetables during grilling season. Pro tip: You can grill just about any vegetable, but keep in mind that tiny pieces can easily fall between the grates and into the fire, so steer clear of very small veggies and when you cut veggies for grilling, keep the pieces relatively large.

Get the Facts on 5 Plant-Based Meat Substitutes

If you've been thinking about going vegetarian for health, environmental or animal rights reasons, you may wonder how you'll live without your carnivorous faves. With so many innovative plant-based meat substitutes on the market now, it's easier than ever to eat less or even no meat while still enjoying your go-to dishes. Consider this your guide to the bevy of faux meat options you'll find at your local grocery or health food store.

Tofu

Depending on how you prepare it, tofu is an incredibly versatile plant-based meat option that can sub in for seafood, chicken, pork or even beef. This soybean product, which has long been used liberally in Asian cuisine, can soak up the savory flavors of your chosen marinades and spices. When you incorporate tofu in your diet, you'll also enjoy the benefit of calcium, protein, fiber, omega-3 fatty acids, selenium and iron. In fact, tofu is a complete protein, which means it contains all the essential amino acids the body needs for optimal function.

Even if you've tried tofu before and found it too tasteless or mushy, try purchasing an extra-firm variety and using lots of seasoning. You might be pleasantly surprised about how satisfying soy-based meat can be when you spice it up and throw it on the grill. Tofu also provides an excellent alternative to cheese and eggs if you plan to go completely vegan.

Tempeh

Although tempeh is also made from soy, the use of the whole soybean and the fermenting process create a product with a stronger flavor and an even greater nutritional value. Tempeh, which comes in small cakes or patties, is rich in vitamins, fiber and protein and offers benefits for your digestive health. You may also find tempeh products mixed with grains such as barley and quinoa.

The firm texture of this meat substitute works well in sandwiches, salads and stir-fries, or try a traditional pairing with Thai peanut sauce. Crumble it to use in place of ground beef in your favorite taco and chili recipes.

Seiten

If you avoid soy, try seitan. This pure wheat gluten product is high in protein and low in carbohydrates. You can buy seitan in premade vegan versions of burgers, bacon and sausage, or purchase straight seitan and make your own meat alternatives. Seitan is easy to prepare and can be baked, stir-fried, grilled, sauteed and marinated to your heart's content. However, keep in mind that seitan is not an option for individuals with celiac disease or other forms of gluten sensitivity.

Jackfruit

This new kid on the block is a tropical fruit with a mild taste and meat-like texture that make it an ideal substitute for pulled pork. The sweet taste pairs well with barbecue sauce and other spicy flavors. Just roast the jackfruit in the oven with your seasonings of choice for about 15 minutes for a chewy texture that will make your tacos, sandwiches and stews sing. Best of all, this fruit is rich in fiber, potassium and vitamin C. According to Medical News Today, studies show that jackfruit consumption in animals boosts "good" (HDL) cholesterol levels and decreases the levels of "bad" (LDL) cholesterol.

Mushrooms

Fungi are another outstanding meat substitute if you prefer to eat whole foods rather than processed products. The naturally meaty flavor and texture of mushrooms make these veggies a natural for tacos, stir-fries and sandwiches. You'll also get a healthy dose of fiber and very few calories, which makes mushrooms a filling no-brainer if you're trying to achieve a healthy weight.

When you're experimenting with these meat substitutes, keep an open mind and an open spice cabinet. Refer to recipes that provide step-by-step instructions on how to prepare these unfamiliar ingredients to become an expert in no time.

3 Delicious Dessert Recipes That Don’t Use Sugar

I love dessert. I don’t love what it does for my waistline or blood sugar. Fortunately, there are a variety of clever ways to enjoy a sweet treat without packing on the pounds or otherwise negatively impacting your health. Here are three of my favorite dessert recipes that don’t use an ounce of processed sugar.

Double Chocolate Banana Cookies

Ingredients:

  • ¾ cup whole-wheat flour

  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda

  • ¼ teaspoon salt

  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder

  • ½ medium banana, mashed

  • ¼ cup honey

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil, melted

  • ½ medium banana, chopped

  • 1/3 cup no sugar-added chocolate chips (I use Enjoy Life vegan semi-sweet chips)

Directions:

  1. Add flour, baking soda, salt and cocoa powder to a large bowl. Mix well until no clumps remain. Set aside.

  2. Whisk banana, honey, vanilla and coconut oil together in a medium bowl.

  3. Add the banana mixture to the flour mixture and gently combine.

  4. Fold in banana chunks and chocolate chips. Chill mixture in fridge for 30 minutes.

  5. Preheat oven to 325 degrees and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.

  6. After the dough has sufficiently chilled, drop dough onto prepared sheet by the tablespoon. Shape them into cookies; these don’t spread out much.

  7. Bake for 10-14 minutes, depending on how soft you like your cookies.

  8. Remove from oven and allow to cool for 10 minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack to cool further.

Devil’s Food Doughnuts

Ingredients – Doughnuts:

  • 5 Medjool dates, pitted

  • 1 tablespoon water, divided

  • ½ cup coconut flour

  • ¼ cup, plus 2 tablespoons unsweetened almond milk

  • ¼ cup good maple syrup

  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil, melted

  • 2 tablespoons sunflower seed butter

  • 2 tablespoons coconut crystals

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

  • ½ teaspoon baking soda

  • pinch sea salt

  • 2 eggs

  • ½ cup vegan chocolate chips

Ingredients – Glaze:

  • ½ tablespoon sunflower seed butter

  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup

  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil, softened

Directions:

  1. Grease a donut pan with coconut oil. Any size pan will work; with a large pan, this recipe yields eight delicious donuts that, yes, I know, are technically a breakfast food.

  2. Microwave dates with ½ tablespoon of water for 30 seconds to soften.

  3. Add ½ tablespoon of water to the softened dates and mash well. You should end up with about ¼ cup of date paste.

  4. Combine date paste with remaining donut ingredients in a food processor. Blend until you have a smooth batter.

  5. Fill each hole in donut pan roughly 75% of the way up with batter.

  6. Bake for 12 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Remove and let cool for 5 minutes before relocating to a cooling rack to cool completely.

  7. While the donuts bake, make the glaze by whisking the sunflower seed butter, maple syrup and coconut oil together in a medium bowl.

  8. Dip top of fully cooled donuts in glaze, and you’re done!

No-Bake Peanut Butter Cookies

Ingredients:

  • ¼ cup coconut oil

  • ¼ cup honey

  • ¼ teaspoon sea salt

  • ½ cup creamy peanut butter

  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

  • 1 cup quick-cooking oats

  • ¼ cup unsweetened coconut (shredded or flakes)

Directions:

  1. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.

  2. In a medium saucepan, combine coconut oil, honey, salt and peanut butter. Melt over medium heat, stirring continuously until well-combined.

  3. Stir in cocoa powder and vanilla.

  4. Stir in oats, then coconut until the dough is thoroughly mixed.

  5. Using a tablespoon, drop dough onto prepared cookie sheet. There should be enough for 18 cookies or so.

  6. Put the cookie sheet in the fridge or the freezer, and let the dough harden for at least an hour.

  7. Serve cold. (When coconut oil hits room temperature, it becomes soft.)

Eating healthy doesn’t mean depriving yourself of delicious doughnuts or sumptuous cakes, cookies or pies. Make smart choices, get a little creative in the kitchen, and indulge in moderation, and you’ll never have to go without.

3 Fat Loss Myths ­– Busted

Some say weight loss is a journey. Some say you should eat for the body you want, not the body you have. Some say that you can burn calories by eating a grapefruit. Remember that early ‘80s craze? For every grapefruit diet fad that’s debunked, two more weight-loss fables seem to pop up in its place. Here are three of the biggest fat loss myths busted.

Myth No 1: Avoid All Carbs at All Costs

First things first, some carbs really are terrible for you. Processed carbs powered by white flour and refined sugar (think pasta, pastries, fruit juice and beer) offer little or no nutritional value. Instead, they wreak havoc on your blood sugar levels and drive a host of health problems including obesity, diabetes and heart disease.

Complex carbohydrates, however, are a necessary component of a healthy diet. Research shows that because of their fiber content they can prevent an array of health issues, such as irritable bowel syndrome, heart disease, diabetes and colon cancer.

Which carbs are complex? Here’s a helpful, albeit incomplete, list:

  • Whole wheat flour, pasta and bread

  • Barley

  • Lentils

  • Brown rice

  • Quinoa

  • Beans

  • Chickpeas

Other fiber-rich foods to consider making staples of your fat-loss diet include nuts, seeds, fruits and vegetables. Each soaks up water as it moves through your body, so you don’t only feel full, you feel full for longer than you would with other foods.

Myth No. 2: Exercise Is the Key to Fat Loss

If you hate the gym, good news! Research shows that diet, not exercise, is the main factor in fat loss. Pounding the pavement or hitting the pool five days a week won’t help you lose fat and keep it off if you’re not eating well.

That said, exercise is key to maintaining your overall health — not to mention keeping up with your grandkids — so don’t donate your walking shoes to Goodwill just yet. Instead of overdoing it on the treadmill, however, focus on losing fat by building muscle.

Strengthening your body boosts your metabolism. The more muscle you have, the more calories you’ll burn each day simply by existing. Your basal metabolic rate determines how many calories melt off when you’re at rest, and the higher your body’s percentage of muscle, the higher your BMR.

Myth No. 3: If You Want To Lose Fat, Kiss Snacking Goodbye

If your mother was like mine, she likely warned you about the nutritional dangers of eating between meals. And by “warned you” I mean “ordered you not to spoil the dinner she spent the last 90 minutes making over a hot stove." You may have even issued such a warning to your own kids.

With apologies to mothers everywhere, snacking can be good for you in certain instances. In fact, most experts agree that eating five small meals each day instead of three can help you avoid overeating at those meals. Having a snack when mid-afternoon hunger pangs strike can stop you from bingeing from dinner until bedtime, too.

What you eat matters even more then when you eat it, though. If you’re chowing down on sugary sweets and salty treats between meals, you’re doing your waistline no favors. Opt for a healthy snack that’s high in nutrients, such as vegetables or non-fat yogurt, and you can aid fat loss.

Skip the alcohol, too. It's loaded with empty calories. If the thought of a wine-free book club makes you shudder, start with small changes. Trade one glass of Chardonnay for a clean, cool bottle of sparkling water with lemon that you can feel good about.

When it comes to fat loss, it’s important to separate the wheat from the chaff. And, as this myth-busting session shows, it’s just as vital to separate the whole wheat bread from its processed counterparts and trade your afternoon cookie break for some carrots and hummus. Over time, small changes yield huge results.

How To Buy and Cook Shrimp for Maximum Health Benefits

Like most types of seafood, shrimp puts a wealth of health benefits on your plate. They are low in carbs, low in calories, and packed with protein along with more than 20 different vitamins and minerals. However, factors like preparation can decrease the nutritional value of this sumptuous shellfish. If you work hard to keep your diet healthy, here's what you should know about the healthiest ways to enjoy shrimp (and a few shrimp dishes that aren't so nutritious).

Farm-Raised vs. Wild-Caught Shrimp

If you pay attention to sustainability in seafood, you know it's important to understand exactly where your shrimp originates. Most shrimp sold in the United States was raised on a farm in another country and imported here for sale. While concerns exist about antibiotics in these farm-raised shrimp, the Food and Drug Administration prohibits the import of seafood treated with these medications. Although FDA testing eliminates most antibiotic-tainted shrimp, you may inadvertently consume some antibiotics if you buy this type of seafood. If you want to skirt the issue completely, opt for wild-caught shrimp over farmed varieties.

Signs of Poor Quality Seafood

Purchasing shrimp can be daunting if you don't usually buy and cook seafood at home. Start by visiting a reputable fish market or grocer. They should be able to provide information about where the shrimp came from and how it was handled along the way. Damaged or infected seafood can make you ill.

Shrimp should never have an ammonia odor or strong, fishy smell. These scents indicate that the seafood is past its prime and should not be consumed. A slight salty or sealike smell is expected. As for color, look for raw shrimp with light pink, tan, pale gray or translucent shells. Do not purchase shrimp with black discoloration. If you buy cooked shrimp, it should be slightly red or pink with a firm texture.

You can also look for signs that the seafood has been reviewed and quality checked. Read the label to see if the shrimp is sustainably farmed or certified by the Marine Stewardship Council.

The Cholesterol Question

If you have concerns about your cholesterol, you might be concerned about the relatively high level of dietary cholesterol in shrimp. The American Heart Association and the USDA both recommend no more than 300 mg of cholesterol daily for healthy adults. That's about the amount in 6 oz of shrimp or twice the ideal portion size.

As long as you aren't eating shrimp for every meal, the shellfish shouldn't affect your heart health. In fact, researchers also note that shrimp has heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids and can raise the levels of beneficial (LDL) cholesterol in the blood. However, talk to your doctor before taking the plunge. He or she can provide information specific to your unique nutritional needs.

Nutritious Dishes

The healthiest shrimp dishes are grilled, baked, steamed or broiled. Adding shrimp to creamy sauces or deep-frying these crustaceans will negate many of the health benefits because of the high calorie and fat content of these preparations. Avoid sauteing or frying shrimp in oil, as doing so will add unhealthy trans fat to your plate. 

Adding salt can also decrease the nutritional value of your shrimp, especially if you follow a low-salt diet because of high blood pressure or another health concern. Instead, season your shrimp with garlic and fresh herbs. Lemon or lime juice adds lots of flavor without unwanted calories or salt. For best results, pair seafood with veggies or brown rice. While pasta is a popular pairing, processed carbohydrates have limited nutritional value.

If you've never eaten shrimp before, keep in mind that this shellfish is one of the most common allergens. Start slow when you consume shrimp for the first time and seek medical attention if you develop a skin rash, congestion or other allergic symptoms after dining.

Try These 3 Tasty Recipes for Hypertension

Looking for great recipe ideas for hypertension? Here are three mouth-watering favorites. They’re easy to make and even easier to fall in love with:

1. Spinach and Shrimp Pasta

If you love Italian food, you’ll be happy to know this tangy spaghetti dish is low in salt but amazingly flavorful. The secret is to use fresh herbs, garlic and olive oil.

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound uncooked frozen shrimp (peeled and deveined)
  • 3 cups fresh baby spinach
  • 1 can no-salt-added crushed tomatoes (28 ounces)
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 8 ounces whole-wheat spaghetti, uncooked
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed and minced
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 3/4 cup chopped fresh basil
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper

Instructions:

Cook the spaghetti and toss with a drizzle of olive oil. Next, sauté onions, garlic and oregano. Add tomatoes and simmer for about 10 minutes. Then add balsamic vinegar and shrimp, cooking about 4 minutes. Finally, stir in fresh basil and spinach and cook 1–2 minutes.

Shrimp is a great low-calorie, high protein alternative to the beef in traditional spaghetti. This homemade sauce has much less salt and it’s rich in antioxidant superstars such as lycopene and carotenoids.

2. Tropical Jerk Chicken and Pineapple Slaw

Give your day some tropical flair with this spicy-sweet chicken and refreshing summertime slaw. You can adjust the heat by adding more or less jerk seasoning.

Ingredients:

  • 4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
  • 2 cups red cabbage, shredded
  • 1/2 fresh pineapple, peeled and cored
  • 3 heads baby bok choy, sliced thinly
  • 2 tablespoons cider vinegar
  • 4 teaspoons brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons jerk seasoning
  • 2 teaspoons flour

Instructions:

Combine cabbage, pineapple and bok choy in large bowl. Combine 2 teaspoons brown sugar and the cider vinegar. Drizzle over cabbage mixture and toss. Next, combine jerk seasoning, flour and 2 teaspoons brown sugar in a resealable plastic bag. Add chicken to coat.

Finally, cook chicken over medium heat for 8–12 minutes. Slice chicken breasts and serve next to pineapple slaw.

This recipe highlights how to cook without salt. The jerk seasoning takes its zing from cinnamon, garlic, nutmeg, thyme and chilies. With so much aromatic goodness, you don’t need salt to maximize flavor.

3. Chili-Lime Salmon With Roast Sweet Potatoes and Red Peppers

Hypertension-fighting cooking doesn’t have to be complicated. This irresistible salmon is a breeze. Even better, it can wow company any night of the week.

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound sweet potatoes, cut into 1/2-inch chunks
  • 2 medium red, yellow or green peppers, sliced
  • 1 1/4 pounds salmon fillets
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder or minced garlic
  • 1 lime, zested

Instructions:

Place sweet potatoes on baking sheet and sprinkle with olive oil, salt and pepper. Let roast for 15 minutes. Combine cumin, chili powder, garlic, lime zest and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Add half of spice mixture to peppers and half as salmon rub. Remove pan from oven and add peppers. Roast another 5 minutes. Finally, add salmon to the pan, roasting for approximately 6 to 8 minutes, or until just cooked through.

Salmon and other fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids are among the best foods for hypertension. They can lower your blood pressure and triglycerides while providing plenty of vitamin D.

Check back soon for other tasty meal ideas! I’m going to put together my favorite heart-healthy breakfasts for you.

Can Losing Weight Help With Joint Pain?

Now you have yet another reason to stay active and eat a delicious, healthy diet. According to research from the renowned National Institute of Health, Arthritis Foundation and Cleveland Clinic, losing weight has a major effect on reducing joint pain and improving mobility. Here are 5 reasons why burning those calories should be a priority.

1. Osteoarthritis Relief

Losing weight can alleviate pain significantly in people who have OA. This is because every pound of weight is equal to four pounds of pressure on joints. If you drop just 10 pounds, it’s like you lost 40 pounds when it comes to your joints. Lose 20 pounds and your body feels 80 pounds lighter!

2. Less Cartilage Loss

Weight loss can make life much easier for people who have OA. Losing weight reduces the wear and tear your joints have to deal with. This can slow the damage to your cartilage, especially in knees and hips. Healthy cartilage cushions your joints, so you want to protect it as long as possible.

According to one 2017 study of knee OA patients, people who continually lost weight experienced much lower cartilage damage. What’s especially interesting is that weight loss was directly related to the speed of cartilage loss. The more weight patients lost, the slower OA advanced.

3. Reduced Inflammation

Did you know that fatty tissues send signals to your body that trigger inflammation? Too much fat can cause sore muscles and joints throughout the body, making the pain of arthritis much worse. Stop this inflammation cascade by keeping your weight in a healthy range. A diet rich in inflammation fighting foods can also provide significant relief.

4. Positive Effects on Rheumatoid Arthritis and Psoriatic Arthritis

Hitting your ideal weight helps your body deal with autoimmune disorders such as RA and PsA better. One recent study found that weight loss produced significant positive effects on people who have PsA. This can mean fewer days where you wake up with pain and stiffness. Losing weight also increases your odds of RA remission.

5. Lower Uric Acid Levels

Burning calories can reduce overall levels of uric acid in your blood. If you have a tendency to get gout attacks, losing weight should be top on your list of natural remedies. Want to take gout pain relief to the next level? Here’s what to eat:

  • Grapefruit and oranges

  • Pineapple

  • Cherries

  • Leafy green veggies and broccoli

  • Beans

  • Nuts and peanut butter

  • Lentils

  • Whole grains

Don’t forget to drink plenty of water every day. Yogurt, low-fat milk and coffee are great for reducing uric acid levels. Yes, several cups of coffee a day can actually help with gout prevention.

The Best Exercises for Joint Pain

If you’re experiencing a lot of joint pain, the thought of exercise probably doesn't seem appealing. However, your joints need workouts to stay flexible and healthy. The good news is there are gentle exercises you can do that really work. Even better, they help your body release endorphins, natural pain relievers and mood boosters.

Try low-impact, moderately intense aerobics activities three or four days a week. Swimming, walking, biking or using an elliptical trainer all help you stay active while reducing joint stress. As you shed pounds and eat great, you can look forward to less pain each and every day.

What’s the Best Way To Lose Weight: Dieting or Lifestyle Changes?

For many, the battle of the bulge seems never-ending. We lose weight. We gain it back. We lose more weight. We gain even more weight back. To see real, permanent change on the scale, what’s the best way to ditch those unwanted pounds?

Dieting

From Atkins to The Zone, there are more diets than there are seats in Madison Square Garden. Some diets, like the Mediterranean diet, ask you to fill your plate full of healthy fats. Others, such as the Paleo diet, challenge you to go full “cavewoman” and only eat the foods that our earliest ancestors ate: nuts, lean meats, berries.

No matter what’s on the menu, virtually all diets have two things in common. First, most diets are designed to offer big results in a short period of time. They tend to do this by similar means, too:

  • Calorie restrictions

  • “Eat and “Do Not Eat” lists

  • Calorie counting

  • Prewritten weekly meal plans

  • Eliminating certain foods or food groups from your diet

  • Frequent weigh-ins

The other thing that most diets have in common is that they’re ineffective. In the simplest terms, following a regimented eating plan that’s full of rules and restrictions is a hassle. For starters, it eliminates the possibility to eat, drink and be merry. A slice of birthday cake or that second glass of wine are strictly off limits, which can make socializing a self-conscious slog.

It can also result in a frustrating cycle of eating very little for several days and then eating everything in sight. In fact, the overwhelming majority of people who lose weight using a diet gain all of that weight back within five years, and many of those folks pack on additional pounds in the process.

Dieting can also be bad for your health. Extreme diets can be a gateway to eating disorders, particularly in younger women and men. They can also leave you nutrient-deprived. Remember the Grapefruit Diet that was all the rage in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s? It turns out that woman cannot live on citrus fruit (and some strategically placed salads and skim milk) alone. Many diets lack balance. This can have adverse effects on your health, such as iron-deficiency, for example.

Some diets also impart unhealthy, if not downright bizarre, eating tips. Contrary to what you may have believed in the era of Pac-Man and shoulder pads, grapefruits do not burn fat.

Lifestyle Changes

While diets typically provide a temporary fix, healthy lifestyle changes create the potential for lasting weight loss. Slow and steady wins the race, right? Instead of forsaking all carbs, for example, make a switch to healthy whole grains, and incorporate them mindfully. This behavior is far easier to maintain than trying to swear off all bread baskets until the end of time.

Here are several examples of other lifestyle changes that can lead to permanent weight loss:

  • Eating and drinking in moderation

  • Taking the stairs

  • Avoiding processed and prepackaged “convenience” foods

  • Going for a walk everyday

  • Using a fitness tracker or pedometer

  • Drinking more water

  • Treating yourself from time to time

The key to implementing lifestyle changes is starting small. If you want to start walking two miles every day, but you haven’t dusted off your sneakers in years, start by just walking to the mailbox every day — or even just putting on some sneakers. Once you master that walk to the mailbox, start walking to the end of your block and back. You’ll likely find yourself getting to the end of your block and deciding to go even farther — just because you can.

The Verdict

If you want to lose 10 pounds for your niece’s wedding next month, a crash diet might do the trick. If, however, you want to lose weight and make it stay gone, most health and nutrition experts agree that lifestyle changes are far superior to dieting.