The Secrets of Sodium

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July 24, 2013 by thehealthyheartcenter

Why is it such a concern?

Just about all Americans consume more sodium than recommended (less than 2,300 mg a day). While salt is America’s favorite ingredient, it comes with some severe consequences such as high blood pressure. If too much sodium is consumed the body retains fluid and sodium stays in the blood increasing blood volume making the heart work harder and in turn increasing pressure in your arteries. Diseases such as congestive heart failure, cirrhosis and chronic kidney disease can result and start to inhibit your kidney’s ability to balance sodium levels. Then you may face heart disease and stroke.

Before severe health concerns develop use these quick tips to help lower your (and your children’s) sodium intake.

 Eat fresh

One of the biggest problems in the American Diet is the dependence on processed foods. Processed foods are notorious for having loads of sodium. Try to limit your consumption as much as you can on these foods: cheesy foods, pizza, bacon, sausage, hot dogs, deli meat, canned soups and ravioli.

Cook More at Home

Restaurants and fast-food industries love to load up on the salt. When you eat out you have little control over how your food is prepared. Cooking at home you can limit how much salt you use.

Limit Salt in the Kitchen

Hide the saltshaker from the kitchen and the dinner table. When cooking you may depend on salt to give you the taste you desire. Luckily, your taste buds can adjust as you start decreasing your salt intake. Try using more herbs, spices, garlic, and no salt seasonings. Try using some red pepper, basil, and curry.

When at the grocery store look for labels such as “low sodium, “reduced sodium” and “no salt added.” The most effective method you can use is simply looking at the amount of salt. Compare different brands and options to see which as the lower amount of sodium. Take a look at the ingredient list. The following are ingredients that are salt-containing compounds: Monosodium glutamate (MSG), Baking soda (bicarbonate), Baking powder, Disodium phosphate, sodium alginate, sodium citrate, sodium nitrite. Avoid products with more than 200mg of sodium per serving.

Tip: Pasta sauce typically has a high amount of sodium and they do create some with little to no sodium. Try spicing it up with basil and garlic and if that’s not cutting it don’t give up. Mixing half with regular tomato sauce still has a lot less sodium but still with the familiar taste.

Increase Potassium

Potassium lowers your blood pressure and can be found in many fruits and vegetables. Try to consume more potatoes, greens, tomatoes, beans, bananas, strawberries, orange juice, and yogurt.

Beware of Condiments & Substitutes

Some salt substitutes have just as much sodium and you could find yourself relying on them too much. Condiments tend to have large amounts of sodium so try not to be so generous with the ketchup, dips, and salad dressing.

 

Sources: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/sodium/NU00284/NSECTIONGROUP=2, http://www.choosemyplate.gov/food-groups/downloads/TenTips/DGTipsheet14SaltAndSodium.pdf

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Authors

Dr. Wali Gauvin

Kendra Fink RD CPT

Jessica Griffin: Intern

Julianna Yi: Intern

Marielle Mangano: Intern

Jackie Page: Intern

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