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Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women worldwide. The good news is, however, that many of these deaths and associated risk factors are preventable. While age, gender and family history cannot be controlled, you may be able to prevent and control elevated cholesterol and other lipids, high blood pressure, excess weight and obesity with lifestyle changes, healthful eating and medications.
This February, you may be treating your sweetheart, but don’t forget to give your own heart some special treatment as well. In honor of American Heart Month, why not begin by making some healthy eating changes with a focus on reducing sodium intake.
You are, more than likely, getting more sodium than what your body needs or what is good for your heart. In some people, sodium increases blood pressure because it holds excess fluid in the body creating an added burden for your heart. Blood pressure tends to rise with age, and eating less salt/sodium now can help to decrease that rise and reduce your risk of developing other conditions associated with too much sodium, such as stroke, heart failure, osteoporosis, stomach cancer and kidney disease.
The average American consumes about 3400 milligrams (mg) of sodium per day. The American Heart Association recommends no more than 2,300 mg a day and is moving toward an ideal limit of no more than 1,500 mg per day for most adults.
Here are the approximate amounts of sodium, in milligrams, in a given amount of table salt:
Sea salt has boomed in popularity here recently, but it usually IS NOT less salty. Like table salt, it typically contains about 40% sodium.
There are many flavor alternatives and ways to be creative when seasoning without salt. Experiment with spices, herbs and citrus to enhance the natural flavor of your food. Flavored vinegars and oils are another way to add taste without added salt.
Even for people who don’t have high blood pressure, less sodium will significantly reduce the rise in blood pressure that occurs as we age and may also reduce the risk of developing other conditions, such as kidney disease which is associated with eating too much sodium.
To find out more information on how to eat for a healthy heart, contact your UnityPoint Health – Marshalltown Dietitians at (641) 854-7530 or MT_dietitians@unitypoint.org.
Click here to find out more information about UnityPoint Health – Marshalltown’s Outpatient Nutrition Services.