While June is best known for its scorching temperatures and the beginning of summer, did you know that June is also National Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Month? Fruits and vegetables are not only a great way to incorporate beautiful colors into our meals but they are also an important part of a healthy and balanced diet and help us perform our day to day activities.
Many of us are familiar with the slogan “An apple a day keeps the doctor away” and while this may not be entirely true, eating our fruits and vegetables does have many health benefits that can help keep the doctor away, says Amy Valdez, a health specialist with AgriLife Extension. Overall a healthy diet filled with fruits and vegetables can help to reduce the risk of various chronic diseases such as heart disease and type 2 diabetes. Fruits and vegetables contain a variety of nutrients such as potassium, folate, dietary fiber, and vitamins A and C. A healthy, well balanced diet including foods such as spinach, bananas and sweet potatoes, which contain potassium, can help to maintain a healthy blood pressure. Folate or folic acid aids in the formation of red blood cells and can help reduce the risk of neural tube defects during fetal development. Dietary fiber found in fruits and vegetables can help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and can aid in reducing cholesterol levels. Vitamin A plays a role in eye and skin health while both Vitamin A and C can help boost the immune system and help fight against infections. Fruits and vegetables are also great to eat as a snack or a side as a majority of them are low in calories, sodium, and fat and they add vibrant colors to our meals making them more appealing to eat.
To celebrate National Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Month, Valdez recommends trying out these four ideas below:
Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service offers some simple recipes that include fresh produce to help you incorporate fruits and vegetables, such as Dinner Tonight’s Summer Veggies with Bow Tie Pasta or Fresh Berry Caprese Salad recipes. To learn more about the recipes, visit https://dinnertonight.tamu.edu
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In our May Newsletter, we discuss thins we want to accomplish before going to bed. Basically, it's our wish list of creating a nightly routine, and we would love to hear what you do as a nightly routine? Get some ideas to develop better nightly habits by reading our May Newsletter, and tell us what things you would like to accomplish before going to bed.
Tell us what you want to accomplish before bed?
According to the American Heart Association, nearly half of American adults are living with high blood pressure (also called hypertension), yet many are unaware that they have it. In kids and teens, elevated blood pressure is becoming increasingly common, which may lead to health problems later in life. During May’s National High Blood Pressure Education Month, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension is working to raise awareness and share the most important tips to prevent or manage high blood pressure.
Knowing your risk factors is the first key prevention strategy. “Besides age, genetics and a family history of high blood pressure, there are lifestyle risk factors that you can control, such as obesity, poor diet, physical inactivity, smoking, and excessive alcohol consumption,” said Dr. Sumathi Venkatesh, a health specialist with Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service. “Certain medical conditions like diabetes can also increase the risk of developing high blood pressure,” she added.
Because there are no obvious symptoms or warning signs for high blood pressure, it’s often called a “silent killer.” That’s why regularly monitoring your blood pressure and understanding your results is another key prevention strategy. A blood pressure measurement includes two numbers: The top number measures systolic pressure, which is the force of the blood against the arteries when the heart beats, and the bottom number measures diastolic pressure, which is when the heart is relaxing between beats. A blood pressure reading of 120/80 is considered normal, while readings above 130/80 mean a diagnosis of high blood pressure.
Knowing your numbers could save your life. “Chronic uncontrolled high blood pressure can damage blood vessels and result in heart attack or stroke, the two leading causes of death in the U.S.,” said Dr. Venkatesh. “High blood pressure may also contribute to kidney disease, vision problems, and peripheral artery disease, but the good news is that high blood pressure can be controlled by taking prescribed medications and following a healthy lifestyle.”
Following The Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension, or “DASH” dietary pattern, is one of the best ways to prevent or treat high blood pressure. This healthy approach includes eating plenty of fruits and vegetables plus whole grains, nuts, fish, lean meat and low-fat dairy products, while limiting added sugars and saturated fats. Sodium intake should not exceed 1500 mg per day, so it’s important to check the sodium content listed on the nutrition facts label for any packaged foods. Other key prevention strategies include maintaining a healthy weight, exercising for at least 30 minutes a day, and avoiding smoking and excessive alcohol consumption. Finally, be sure to talk with your doctor if you have any health concerns or challenges. Healthy blood pressure is a target within reach.
More than 1.5 million people in Texas are affected by asthma, according to the Center for Disease Control (CDC). However, this number does not include those who have the disease and have not yet been diagnosed. So, what exactly is asthma and what can you do about it?
According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), asthma is a disease that causes the airways of the lungs to tighten and swell, making it difficult to breathe. When this occurs, it is referred to as an asthma attack and is often accompanied by coughing or wheezing. While asthma attacks only occur when triggered, the disease itself never goes away. Common asthma triggers, as stated by the CDC include:
Asthma is most common among children and young teens; however, adults can have it too. While asthma requires a diagnosis from a medical doctor, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service’s Julie Tijerina recommends watching for these warning signs:
Depending on the severity of the asthma, a doctor may prescribe medicine to help with the attacks. To help mitigate and prevent asthma attacks, Tijerina also recommends following these steps:
In our April Newsletter, we discuss what grounds us and we would love to hear what grounds you? Learn what nourishes us by reading our April Newsletter, and tell us what grounds you.
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June's are juicing guru!
Check out our video where she discusses all things about juicing.
Because we all lead different lifestyles, it is no surprise that dieting is not “one-size-fits-all.” Therefore, it is essential to follow a healthy eating regimen that is tailored to you and your daily needs. Sticking to a diet that is custom to you will both give you the energy that your body requires and help combat obesity and weight gain. Learn more by reading our March 2019 Newsletter or listen to Episode 9 to get more details.
Below is a quick tip/outline to “Becoming a Healthier You.”
In our March Newsletter, we discuss what nourishes us for our body, mind, and soul. Learn what nourishes us....
Tell what nourishes you?
This recipe is from our Better Living for Texans program from Texas A&M AgriLife Extension. It's great recipe to sneak in some green.
Our new podcast episode is out, and it's all about the health benefits of some tasty vegetables. We talk about spinach and the rodeo tomato from 2019 San Antonio Livestock show. So make sure to listen to our episode!
Spinach, best grown in mild climates with an abundance of fertile, high quality soil and water, put Crystal City, Texas on the map in 1917. This southern area of Texas is best known as the Wintergarden region and is recognized by farmers for its long growing seasons. From 1930-1950, the Wintergarden region experienced a “spinach boom,” making Texas the top spinach producing state in the US. Over time, consumer demands influenced production in Texas, leading to varieties such as “baby” and “teen” flat-leaf spinach, according to Larry Stein, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Horticulturist. From 2006-2016, Texas experienced a 29% increase in spinach production, jumping from 32,025 tons of spinach produced to 41,215.
Other than being a popular commodity in Texas, spinach has many nutritional benefits, including its high vitamin and mineral counts, caloric density, and its contributions to heart health. Nutritional facts for 100g (or 3 ⅓ cups) of spinach:
While spinach is often served raw in salads, it can also be enjoyed in soups, pastas, and dips. AgriLife Extension’s Dinner Tonight has developed a plethora of recipes to incorporate spinach into your meals as a main ingredient, including Chicken and Spinach Lasagna, Spinach Quiche, Black bean and Spinach Quesadillas, and Spinach Pasta Toss. To find more nutritious spinach recipes, visit dinnertonight.tamu.edu/.
FABLOW AgriLife is part of Texas A&M AgriLife Extension’s (FCH) unit that “helps Texans better their lives through science-based educational programs designed to improve the overall health and wellness of individuals, families, and communities.”