Reducing Sodium Intake Promotes a Healthy Heart
A heart attack strikes someone approximately every
43 seconds and is the leading cause of death in the United States, according to
the American Heart Association (AHA).
Many Americans have developed a taste for a high
salt diet which can contribute to high blood pressure (HBP). HBP, commonly
called a “silent disease” since most are unaware they have it, causes an
increase in the workload of the heart and blood vessels making them less
“Cutting back on table salt can help reduce sodium
intake and lower blood pressure – yet most sodium in our diets stems from
packaged and processed foods,” said Joseph
Yeboah, M.D., assistant
professor of cardiology at Wake Forest
Baptist Medical Center. “High blood
pressure due to excessive salt intake can lead to an enlarged heart, heart
attacks, congestive heart failure and strokes.”
Americans roughly consume 75 percent of their sodium
from processed foods like soups, tomato sauce, condiments and canned goods. Words
such as soda, sodium or the symbol “Na” on labels indicate that those products
contain sodium compounds. Certain canned and frozen food labels help consumers minimize
their salt intake by identifying salt levels as “low salt” or “low sodium” on
the packaging, according to the AHA.
and Yeboah recommend the below tips to minimize sodium consumption:
- Avoid adding salt and canned vegetables to
- Use spices and herbs to enhance the natural
flavor of food.
- Select unsalted or low-sodium fat-free broths
- Use fruit and raw vegetables as snacks.
- Remove the salt shaker from table.
When Dining Out:
yourself with low-sodium foods and look for them on the menu.
ordering, request dishes be prepared without salt.
fresh lemon juice instead of salt to season fish and vegetables.
The AHA recommends no more than 2300 mg (1 teaspoon) per day of
salt for adults. Table salt is approximately 40 percent sodium – sea salt and
kosher salt often contain as much sodium as table salt.
“Salt certainly has minerals needed for the normal functioning of
our bodies, but it also can have harmful effects when we consume too much,” Yeboah
said. “It may take some time to adjust to a lower sodium diet, but there are delicious
options for flavorful low-sodium meals.”