Take charge of the sodium in your diet
Before you go grocery shopping this weekend for the week ahead, here’s something to consider: Next week is World Salt Awareness Week, which is all about focusing on the fact that most of us have way too much sodium in our diets.
A lot of that excess salt comes from processed foods, but some comes from surprising sources that seem healthful. For example, a lot of the poultry and pork bought at the grocery store has been injected with a sodium solution, according to a report released last month by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And bread, a food, that may be eaten several times a day, is also a hidden sodium source that adds up.
About 90 percent of Americans eat more sodium than is considered healthy, upping the chances for high blood pressure, heart disease and stroke.
Most Americans are eating about 3,300 mg. of sodium a day, when U.S. dietary guidelines for adults call for 2,300 mg of sodium a day, according to the CDC.
If Americans would cut the sodium in their diets down to 1,500 a day, the nation would see a 26 percent decline in high blood pressure and save $26 billion on health care costs in just over one year, the American Heart Association contends.
Most consumers know sodium isn’t just in the salt shaker and most of it comes from processed and restaurant foods. But which ones have the most?
Americans get 40 percent of their sodium from such products as breads and rolls, cold cuts and cured meats, pizza, fresh and processed poultry, soups, sandwiches such as cheeseburgers, cheese, pasta dishes, meat-mixed dishes such as meatloaf with tomato sauce, and snacks such as chips, pretzels and popcorn, according to the CDC report.
See more details, including how much sodium is in some of the most common foods we eat, in this report at: www.cdc.gov/VitalSigns/Sodium/index.html
To really limit your sodium intake, choose more fresh foods and read the nutrition labels on processed foods, the heart association advises.
More tips from the heart association:
— Don’t add more salt to your food! Add herbs instead.
— When you eat in restaurants, be specific about how you want your food cooked and say you don’t want salt added.
— Try to eat more foods containing potassium to counter the effects of sodium and help lower blood pressure.