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Saturday, December 03, 2011

Less salt, more potassium, calcium, and magnesium

The 2010 USDA guidelines recommend 1500 mg or less of sodium each day for at least half the population -- including anyone over 51, with diabetes, high blood pressure, or kidney disease.

But have you ever looked at a can of soup? One half-cup serving of Campbell's condensed tomato soup has 710 mg of sodium -- that's half your daily allowance in a teacup. Or  make a pot of Wegmans beef chili, and get 1600 mg in a single serving. Luckily, you can find a recipe for Wegmans turkey chili with only 440 mg in a serving.

One thing diet researchers have learned is that potassium, calcium, and magnesium pills don't do much for blood pressure. But eating foods high in potassium, calcium, and magnesium leads to dramatic changes in blood pressure.  In the DASH study, researchers saw significant changes in blood pressure only days after study subjects started the DASH diet.

So eat fresh fruits and vegetables for potassium. Half of what you eat every day should be fruits annd vegetables.  For calcium, eat kale and drink low-fat dairy products, eat low-fat cheeses and yogurts. For magnesium, eat beans and peas, nuts (walnuts or almonds), seeds, leafy green vegetables, and fish like halibut. You'll also get some magnesium in your dairy products. Potatoes, watermelon, and bananas also contain magnesium.

Kale is the super food of the day -- rich in calcium, magnesium, and potassium, low in calories, and high in other important nutrients like iron, vitamins A, B,and C. And low in carbs, fat, and total calories. It is also high in vitamin K, which could be an issue if you taking coumadin (warfarin).

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