Reduce sodium intake with simple steps

The majority of Americans consume too much sodium each day which can increase the risk of heart disease and stroke. Make your heart happy by reducing your sodium intake by following a few easy steps.

Sodium (salt) is an important nutrient for daily intake.  The human body needs it to help maintain fluid balance and to transmit nerve impulses.  But the majority of Americans consume over 1.5 times the daily recommended amount of sodium.  According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), the average daily sodium intake for Americans age two years and older is 3,436 mg. This excess in sodium consumption increases blood pressure.  Keeping blood pressure within normal ranges can reduce risk of heart disease and stroke.  That is why adults and children should limit their intake of sodium each day.

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends reducing sodium intake to less than 2,300 milligrams (mg) a day.  A further reduction of 1,500 milligrams is recommended for individuals 51 and older and those of any age who are African American, or have hypertension, diabetes or chronic kidney disease. With so many families on the go, how is this accomplished?  There are a few simple steps you can try that will result in a lower sodium diet for your family.

  • Reach for fresh fruits and vegetables rather than salty snacks.
  • Taste your food before adding salt. 
  • When preparing food at home, avoid processed foods.  Instead, experiment with low-sodium recipes that use seasonings like basil, garlic, rosemary or cumin. 
  • When eating out, request that the chef not add salt or ask about lower sodium options.
  • Read food labels and select foods low in sodium.  Be careful though, some labels say “lower in sodium” but still are high.  Try to select products with less than 200 mg of sodium per serving. 

Start by making small changes, so your family can get used to the new tastes. As you lower your salt intake, the less you prefer it. Your heart will thank you!

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