We’ve all heard of blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar but not everyone actually understands these terms and what levels are ideal. Listed below is a brief summary of the current guidelines and their meaning:
• Blood Pressure: A healthy goal is 120/80 mm/Hg. This value compares the amount of force against your artery walls when the heart beats (systolic pressure, top #) to the force in between beats (diastolic pressure, bottom #). Hypertension, commonly referred to as high blood pressure, is present when these numbers reach 140/90 mmHg or higher on a consistent basis. High blood pressure can lead to conditions including stroke, kidney damage, and heart disease.
• Cholesterol: There are multiple numbers to keep in mind when thinking about your cholesterol levels. Ideally total cholesterol should be under 200 mg/dL, with LDL cholesterol under 100 mg/dL, and HDL cholesterol over 50 mg/dL. Some cholesterol levels are beneficial for your heart health and some are not. Try associating HDL, healthy, and high, and inversely, LDL, unhealthy, and low.
• Blood Sugar: A healthy goal for a fasting blood sugar is 99 mg/dL or lower. When this number climbs above 126 mg/dL it is an indication of diabetes. Diabetes occurs when the body does not produce enough of the hormone insulin or when the body cannot use it correctly.
• Thyroid: A thyroid test will measure TSH, or thyroid-stimulating hormone. Ideally it should be lower than 4 mIU/L. Your thyroid pumps out hormones, known as T3 and T4, which help control your metabolism, heart rate and numerous other body functions. If your TSH level is above 4.5 mIU/L you are at risk of developing hypothyroidism (underacting thyroid). When your TSH is below 0.35 mlU/L then it may be an indication of hyperthyroidism (overacting thyroid).
Remember that only your doctor can interpret your blood work and diagnose the conditions listed above. Get your numbers checked regularly to keep your body as healthy as it can be.
Black Bean Soup
Servings: Four 1¼ cup servings
• 1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
• 1 small white onion, chopped
• 1 tbsp. garlic, minced
• 1 tbsp. chili powder
• 1 tbsp. ground cumin
• 2 cans (15oz) black beans, rinsed and drained
• 3 cups water
• ½ cup salsa
• ¼ tsp. red pepper flakes
• ¼ tsp. salt
• 1 tbsp. lime juice
1. Heat olive oil in a Dutch oven or heavy-bottomed pot.
2. Add onion and garlic, stirring until onion begins to soften.
3. Add chili powder and cumin and cook for 1 minute.
4. Add beans, water, salsa, red pepper flakes and salt. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes.
5. Remove from heat and stir in lime juice.
6. Ladle half of the soup into a food processor and puree.
7. Pour the puree mixture back into the pot, stir into the remaining soup. Enjoy!
Serving Size: 1 1/4 Cup of Soup
Nutrition Information per Serving: 281 calories, 5 gm fat, 45 gm carbohydrates, 16 gm protein, 309 mg sodium, 16 gm fiber