Reading the label can help you keep your heart healthy

Reducing sodium in our diets is key to heart health. Here are some tips to help you start.

Michigan State University Extension and the American Heart Association reminds us that there are simple tips to help keep our hearts healthy. Reducing Sodium (Salt) in our diets is key to this. So heed the message that is given by the American Heart Association which recommends people aim to eat no more than 1,500 milligrams of sodium per day. That level is associated with a significant reduction in blood pressure, which in turn reduces the risk of heart disease and stroke.

One of the best ways that we can reduce the intake of sodium is to learn to read food packages and labels. Here is an explanation of the following labels related to sodium:

  • Sodium-free or salt-free: Each serving in this product contains less than 5 mg of sodium.
  • Very low sodium: Each serving contains 35 mg of sodium or less.
  • Low sodium: Each serving contains 140 mg of sodium or less.
  • Reduced or less sodium: The product contains at least 25 percent less sodium than the regular version.
  • Lite or light in sodium: The product content has been reduced by at least 50 percent from the regular version
  • Unsalted or no salt added –No salt is added during processing of a food that normally contains salt. However, some foods with this label may still be high in sodium. A handy sodium tracker can get you started to monitor your intake so that you can make those needed changes.

Some other great ideas to reduce the salt or sodium in foods can be found in the following tips:

  • Use herbs and spices to flavor foods – fresh or dried herbs flavored vinegar or citrus can enhance the flavor of foods.
  • Select fresh foods over processed foods – fresh fruit, vegetables and meats are lower in sodium than canned or processed foods. If you use canned fruits and vegetables, lightly rinse under cold water to remove some of the sodium.
  • Eat at home - when you cook your own food you can control the amount of sodium.

As the American Heart Association reminds us, we are never too young or too old to take care of our heart. Take the challenge and start today to prevent heart disease.

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