February is heart month and we want to share as much heart healthy information as we can with you. So everyday we will write a post about something heart related.
Today, the American Heart Association lowered the recommended daily sodium intake to 2200 milligrams, which is 40% less than previously recommended. The average American consumes around 3600 milligrams of sodium a day! The Los Angeles Times article by Melissa Healy reports that if people dropped their intake to 1500 milligrams a day, that could save 1.2 million lives a year from heart disease related deaths! The National Institute of Health also recommends 2400 milligrams for people with normal sodium levels, but 1500 for those with Hypertension. While there is a lot of debate still on whether there is a direct correlation between high sodium diets and heart attacks, there is no doubt that high sodium diets contribute to high blood pressure, which can contribute to heart disease.
So, what do you do if you have high blood pressure or a high sodium diet? First step is to start reading ingredients and labels on your food. Processed foods are the enemy and fast foods are a killer! Sodas, breads, salad dressings and snack foods can be loaded with sodium. Secondly, try and add fruits and vegetables into your diet. Do not add salt when cooking or eating out. Try taking the salt shaker off the table at home if that helps you. Try eating natural/organically raised/hormone free meats without seasoning, whole grains and healthy fats such as avocados and olive oil.
Cutting out salt is not easy, especially for salt lovers, but your heart will thank you!