If you're looking for a diet to reduce your risk of stroke and heart attack... and who isn't, you might want to try a diet initially designed to lower blood pressure.
A huge study that involved 88,000 women for a period of 25 years found that those who ate meals that included fruits, vegetables and whole grains had a 24 percent lower incidence of heart attacks and an 18 percent lower incidence of strokes.
While selecting more plant-based proteins over meat selections isn't a bad idea, there's nothing wrong with including grass-fed cattle or free-range poultry and all the fish you want.
Also, I want to alert you to a common problem I encounter when people start to eat healthy. Over and over again I see people working hard on cutting out the processed junk and getting enough fruits and vegetables. The problem they run into are cravings. This usually goes along with the belief that healthy eating should somehow be a deprivation diet. Nothing could be further from the truth, and any diet or food plan that causes hunger and cravings will ultimately fail.
Cravings usually result in bingeing on "low fat" processed carbs. Avoid this harmful practice and satisfy your body's needs by making sure you get enough healthy fat. Those cravings are a message to your brain from your body that it's not getting what it needs to run itself... and more often than not, it means a lack of adequate healthy natural fat found in fish, nuts, nut butters and olive oil.
Moderate amounts of organic dairy in the form of yogurt, cheese and butter are also okay. If you get cravings on your "healthy" diet, consider experimenting with a little more of these healthy fats. And stay away from hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated fat found in margarines, packaged baked goods, and a wide variety of processed frozen-food products.
You can start eating better today even if you are not currently dealing with high blood pressure. It's also interesting to note that brisk walkers may outpace joggers in lowering triglycerides, a blood fat linked with increased heart disease risk. Adults in a Duke University study who walked for 50 minutes 4 times a week decreased triglyceride levels by 22 percent, nearly twice as much as those who ran for the same time. Lower intensity workouts may control triglycerides better because they use fats as their primary fuel, while high-intensity efforts draw on the quick energy of glucose.
Now on the other hand, if you have hit a plateau and you would like to start losing again without working out longer. Then you can get better results in the same amount of time simply by increasing your intensity. A plateau can mean your body is fighting to hang on to those last 10 or 15 pounds as a buffer against future starvation, especially if you're cut calories.
Vigorous workouts can signal your body to release those extra fat stores for energy. To rev up a healthy way, try a 50-50 workout. Do your usual activity, such as walking, but for only half the time, then finish with a new activity like bicycling, jogging, or jumping rope. If you work out at a gym, try two cardio machines (maybe a treadmill and an elliptical.) By switching exercises mid workout, you'll stay fresh, challenge new muscles, and burn more calories because you can give 100 percent all over again.
In addition to bumping up intensity, check your food intake because you may be on a diet that has more calories than you realize. Unconscious nibbling throughout the day or snacking just a little bit more can add up if you think it is justified because you did your workout so well that day.
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