Take the Pressure Off

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Donna Green Goodman, MPH

I had the privilege of meeting Elijah Saunders, M.D., when I did some work for the Association of Black Cardiologists. I will never forget that meeting. I learned about him when I was a student and had heard of his work in hypertension. Since May is National Stroke Awareness and High Blood Pressure month, I thought I’d share something he taught me.

Dr. Saunders was a graduate of the University of Maryland School of Medicine and continued to work at the medical school until he passed away in April 2015. Colleagues there said he was known internationally for his work on hypertension in African-Americans and how he taught patients about high blood pressure and its connection between diabetes, heart attack and stroke. (Baltimore Sun)

One study he conducted that intrigued me was about a group of Caribbeans with hypertension. Instead of focusing on reducing their intake of sources of salt/sodium to bring their pressure down, he focused on increasing their consumption of sources of potassium. His theory was that they weren’t getting too much sodium, but not enough potassium. And, if the sodium/potassium balance could be restored, the hypertension would be reduced. He was right. When the study subjects increased their potassium intake, the blood pressure normalized. That changed my life.

While I know there are a number of theories that continue to be promoted about hypertension in people of color, I am convinced that the potassium/sodium balance controlled by diet is the BEST WAY to take the pressure off.  In case you didn’t know, it’s about more than bananas! While bananas boast about 422 mg/medium banana, they really pale in comparison to an avocado which provides 708 mg/1 cup. AMAZING, I know. And, avocados are good sources of fiber and an excellent source of healthy fat.

Here’s my recipe for guacamole and peach  and mango salsas. Yes, tomatoes and peaches and mango also provide fair amounts of potassium. (1 tomato 292 mg., 1 peach 285 mg., 1 mango 564 mg.). So, make yourself some. And, while you’re enjoying devouring it, google some of your favorite PLANT foods, and add up the amount of potassium you’d find in a meal of those foods. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised! And, it will definitely take some of the pressure off.

Thanks Dr. Saunders for changing my life.

4 medium ripe avocados
1 container your favorite soy sour cream
1 medium tomato, diced
1 medium onion, finely chopped
Juice of one large lemon
Juice of one large lime
Salt to taste

Peel and mash avocados. Add other ingredients and mix well. Add salt to taste. Serve with peach salsa and tortilla chips as appetizer/party food or with nachos. YIELD: 6 cups

mango-peperoncini-salsa-400x400-kalynskitchenFresh Mango Salsa
4 cups chopped fresh tomatoes
1 large mango, diced (you could also use peaches)
1 onion, chopped
½ cup chopped green bell pepper
1 – 4 ounce can diced mild, green chilies
¼ cup chopped fresh parsley
2 tablespoons fresh cilantro
1 ½ tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 cloves garlic, minced
¼ teaspoon ground cumin
¼ teaspoon ground oregano
Salt to taste (optional)

Combine all ingredients and mix well. Refrigerate for a few hours to overnight to let flavors blend.
Servings 16

Quick Peach Salsa
1 16-ounce jar On the Border Salsa, medium flavor, it’s vinegar-free
1/3 can Welch’s white grape peach juice, thawed

Mix ingredients together and serve with guacamole and tortilla chips as appetizer/party food or over nachos. Our family loves this!!
Yield: about 2½ cups


Donna Green Goodman, MPH

Author, educator and healthy living expert, Donna Green Goodman, MPH graduated from Oakwood University with a degree in home economics with an emphasis in nutrition and received a Master of Public Health in health education and promotion from the Loma Linda University School of Public Health.

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