May is high blood pressure education month

According to the American Heart Association, nearly 2/3 of adults have blood pressure that is higher than normal. Now is a great time to become aware of your blood pressure, and to learn how to reduce or maintain it within a healthy range.


Why does it matter? High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, is considered a “silent killer” because it often has no symptoms. Did you know that high blood pressure affects more than just your heart? In addition to increasing your risk for heart disease and heart attack, over time, it can lead to kidney damage, vision loss, peripheral vascular disease, angina, fluid in the lungs, and stroke. The best way to keep these negative consequences away is to keep your blood pressure in check!
How do I find out what my blood pressure is? The only way to know your blood pressure is to have it checked regularly. This can be done at your doctor’s office, at home with a home blood pressure monitor, or in a grocery or drug store that has a free blood pressure monitoring station.
What do the numbers mean? You may have heard that your blood pressure should be 120 over 80, but what does that mean? Blood pressure is the amount of force that your blood exerts on your blood vessels as it travels through your body. The top number (systolic pressure) tells you the amount of force that your blood is exerting when the heart is pumping out blood, while the bottom number (diastolic pressure) is the amount of force your blood is exerting between heart beats. For healthy blood pressure, your top number should be less than 120 mmHg, and your bottom number should be less than 80 mmHg. When it is higher than that, it means that your blood is putting extra pressure on the blood vessels, which can cause complications over time.

What can you do about it? If your numbers are high, gaining control of your blood pressure is as easy as 1-2-3!

  1. Get moving. Regular exercise is a great way for you to take care of your heart. You may see a reduction in your top number within 1-3 months of starting a consistent exercise regimen.
  2. Shape up your diet. When it comes to hypertension, it’s important to control the amount of salt in your diet. As a general rule in your body, water follows salt. If you eat too much salt, your body will retain more water. This extra water increases your blood volume, which in turn may increase your blood pressure. Processed foods have a lot of sodium, so be sure to read labels and shoot for less than 2300mg of sodium per day.
    Other ways to make your diet more heart healthy include increasing fruits and vegetables, limiting saturated and trans fats, and adding potassium to your day. Foods that are high in potassium can help to mitigate the negative effects of consuming too much sodium and include potatoes, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, spinach, bananas, and beans.
  3. Talk with your doctor. Be sure to speak with your doctor about your blood pressure. In addition to exercise and a healthy diet, there are medications that may be prescribed to help regulate your blood pressure.

Here at MANNA, we understand the importance of a heart healthy diet, so all of the meals that we prepare are made without added salt. Our standard meal plan contains around 2300mg of sodium per day, and some of our modified diets contain even less. We understand that everyone has nutritional needs that are as unique as they are, so we have many diet variations to meet a variety of needs.


Sources High Blood Pressure Fact Sheet|Data & Statistics|DHDSP|CDC. 2015. Available at:        Accessed April 27, 2015. High Blood Pressure or Hypertension. Available at:                       Hypertension_UCM_002020_SubHomePage.jsp. Accessed April 27, 2015.

Happy Cinco de Mayo!

Today is Cinco de Mayo and the perfect day for guacamole, a Mexican tradition! Did you know that guacamole’s main ingredient, the avocado, has many nutritional benefits? The avocado may very well be the creamiest and most filling fruit in the whole produce aisle. And yes, it is technically a fruit and not a vegetable. It is naturally sodium free, cholesterol free, and low in saturated fat. You may have heard that avocado is high in fat. Avocado is high in monounsaturated fat, which is actually a healthy fat in moderation

The skinny on fats. Fats can be classified into two basic categories: good fats and bad fats. While all fats have 9 calories per gram, they are not all created equally. The main difference between saturated and unsaturated fats is the chemical composition. Saturated fats are generally solid at room temperature, while unsaturated fats are typically liquid at room temperature. These differences make some fats healthier for us than others.
Which fats are bad? Fats that are considered “bad” are saturated and trans fats. These fats can have negative effects on health when eaten in excess. The negative effects can include clogging of arteries and raising of LDL (bad) cholesterol which can lead to heart disease.2 These fats are typically found in butter, lard, margarines, and red meat.
Which fats are good? Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats are considered the good fats. These are the fats that are typically liquid at room temperature. Healthy fats, especially the monounsaturated fats, have many benefits. These include reducing bad cholesterol, lowering risk of heart disease or stroke, and providing vitamin E to the diet which is a natural antioxidant.3,4 Healthy fats are found in vegetable oils, nuts, fish, and of course, avocados! While the monounsaturated fats found in avocados are considered the “good fats”, just make sure you don’t overdo it on the portion size. All fats are equally high in calories, so be sure to eat them in moderation as a part of a healthy diet.  The serving size for avocado is 1/5 of the fruit, which provides 5g fat and 50 calories.1
Picking the Perfect Avocado. When avocado shopping, you need to shop with your hands more than your eyes. Pick up the avocado and give it a squeeze. A ripe avocado will be firm but will give a little under your fingers. If the avocado is a little too firm, you can store it in a brown paper bag at room temperature until it softens, and then you can store it in the refrigerator for 2-3 days. 1 Use these tips to select the perfect avocado, so you can make the perfect guacamole.


Try our Executive Chef, Keith Lucas’s guacamole recipe below:

2 ripe avocados

1 Tbsp. fresh lime juice

¼ red onion, minced

½ ripe Roma tomato, seeded, diced

1 serrrano pepper, seeded if desired, diced

Cilantro chopped, to taste

Salt and pepper, to taste

Cumin ½ teaspoon

A touch of garlic



Do you love guac as much as we do? Join us for the 3rd Annual Guac Off at Morgan’s Pier on Thursday, May 21st, from 6-9 pm! Sample creative guacamole from some of Philly’s best chefs and restaurants while sipping beers and signature MANNA Margaritas on the riverfront. Vote for the best guacamole and help us crown the Guac Master – all while supporting MANNA’s Mission. To learn more about this event and to purchase tickets, click here.



  1. Fruits & Veggies More Matters. Avocado: Nutrition . Selection . Storage – Fruits & Veggies More Matters. Available at: Accessed April 28, 2015.
  2. org. Saturated Fats. Available at: Accessed April 28, 2015.
  3. org. Monounsaturated Fats. Available at: Accessed April 28, 2015.
  4. Polyunsaturated Fats. Available at: Accessed April 28, 2015.