Today is World Health Day
Its focus is on high blood pressure, one of the many chronic diseases that is increasingly common around the world.
One-third of adults worldwide have high blood pressure, and one in 10 adults worldwide have diabetes, reports the World Health Organization.
In the United States, high blood pressure affects 31 percent of American adults. However, the highest levels of hypertension now occur in many African countries, where more than 40 percent of adults are affected. Poor diets are among the most significant causes of high blood pressure.
The Food Tank: The Food Think Tank offers these strategies for creating healthier food and agriculture systems:
1. Eat more vegetables and fruits.
Less than one in three Americans meets the minimum goal of eating two servings of fruit and three servings of vegetables each day, as recommended by the U. S. Department of Agriculture.
2. Strengthen soil with intercropping, agroforestry, and cover crops.Many essential nutrients come from the soil, making soil health critical to producing nutritious food. Intercropping with legumes, including alfalfa or peas, helps return nitrogen to the soil and support healthy plant growth. Using cover crops, which can be ploughed into fields after harvest and return nutrients to the soil, is another strategy that helps increase the amount of nutrients in food. Planting trees on farms – or agroforestry – can also help keep nutrients and water in the soil.
3. Know your nutrients.
Many don’t know that kale, sesame seeds, dried figs, salmon, and
broccoli are excellent sources of calcium. Dark green,
leafy vegetables are also rich in vitamin K, which is similar to vitamin D in
the way it helps the human body make the most of the calcium in food. The Harvard School of Public Health website
features a section called The Nutrition Source, which offers a list of topics
on nutrients in foods and the benefits of different products, such as fish oil.
4. Support family farmers.
medium scale family farms are more likely than big farms to produce nutrient
rich crops, using practices that help keep nutrients in the soil. Family
farmers also produce more nutrient dense foods, including fruits and
5. Choose whole grains.
Whole grains are increasingly popular, but they still make up less than the recommended half of total grain use in the U.S. Whole grains are also valuable, low-cost sources of protein and fiber, and can help reduce the risk of heart disease, cancer, type-2 diabetes, and other diseases.
6. Eat out less.
7. Buy and grow organic.
The London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine
organic fruits and vegetables repeatedly had equal or greater nutrient content
than the same conventional produce. The Environmental Working Group publishes a
Shopper’s Guide assessing which fruits and vegetables have the most pesticides.
In 2012, apples, celery, and sweet bell peppers were in the top three; however,
onions, sweet corn, and pineapples were among the safest conventional foods to
8. Choose grass-fed meat.
Lean meat can contain many valuable nutrients that support a healthy diet. Grass-fed meat usually has less fat than conventional corn- and grain-fed meat products.
9. Support indigenous, heritage, and heirloom food.A study from the University of Texas, Austin found that the amount of nutrients in 43 different food crops have significantly decreased since 1950.