According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, "74.5 million Americans—34 percent of U.S. adults—have hypertension." The Dietary Guidelines go on to explain that "Hypertension is a major risk factor for heart disease, stroke, congestive heart failure, and kidney disease. Dietary factors that increase blood pressure include excessive sodium and insufficient potassium intake, overweight and obesity, and excess alcohol consumption." Since excessive sodium is one of the contributing factors, it is important to get low and make low sodium choices. Check out the post below for the whys and hows of going low sodium, and be sure to scroll all the way to the end -- there's a free handout in this post!
Why Go Low-Sodium?
A prospective study in Finland showed that for each 2,400 mg increase in 24-hour urinary sodium, cardiovascular disease mortality increased by 36% and total mortality increased by 22% (Lancet 20091; 357: 848-51).
Worldwide hypertension is the #1 risk factor for earlier mortality in middle-aged and older adults.
Cutting down on sodium is important to heart health and can have a positive impact on blood pressure.
The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend that people consume no more than 2300 mg of sodium every day. People who are age 51 and older, who are African-American, or who have high blood pressure, diabetes, or chronic kidney disease should get no more than 1500 mg of sodium per day.
So, How Can You Go Low-Sodium?
Fresh, unprocessed foods typically contain very little sodium. Stock up on seasonal fresh fruits and vegetables! If you’re not sure how to use these tasty treats, visit http://www.foodandhealth.com/recipes.php for simple and quick meals that feature plenty of fresh foods.
Lots of sodium lurks in canned and frozen foods. Look for varieties with a “No Salt Added” label and be sure to check the Daily Value (DV) for sodium. You can find the DV listed on the Nutrition Facts label.
According to the Center for Disease Control, “36.9% of average sodium consumed came from grains, and these included highly processed foods like bread, frozen meals, and soups.” (Sodium Intake Among Adults --- United States, 2005-2006; Weekly; June 25, 2010 / 59(24);746-749). Choose whole grains that you can cook yourself, like rice and oatmeal. Bread and boxed grain meal mixes can pack a sodium wallop!
A great way to go low-sodium is to do most of your cooking at home. That way you can determine exactly how much salt is going into your meal. Check the nutrition information for all your ingredients before you begin. This will ensure that your meal is low-sodium.
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Stephanie Ronco has been editing for Food and Health Communications since 2011. She graduated from Colorado College magna cum laude with distinction in Comparative Literature. She was elected a member of Phi Beta Kappa in 2008.