ORLANDO, Fla. (Ivanhoe Newswire) — If you are like most people, then you probably have too much salt in your diet. The recommended daily amount is 2,300 milligrams, but most Americans consume an average of 3,400 milligrams per day. That is almost 50 percent more than the recommended amount and that is endangering your health. Too much sodium can lead to high blood pressure, which can cause heart disease and stroke. It isn’t enough just to throw away your salt shaker because sodium lurks in pretty much everything you eat. But there are some ways you can cut down on the sodium.
First, cooking meals from scratch is the best way to know how much sodium is in your meals. On average a frozen meal will have over 1,000 milligrams of salt, but you can cut that amount in half when cooking with fresh ingredients right at home.
Rohit Bhateja, MD, cardiologist from the Florida Hospital, said, “Avoiding putting in more than a teaspoon of salt in your daily food is the best way to prevent a problem.”
If you are using canned vegetables, you can remove some of the sodium by rinsing them before use.
If you don’t have enough time to cook a meal, you still can go with packaged foods. Just make sure to check the label. You want to go for the pre-made meals that are sodium-free or low in sodium. For example, a cup of ramen noodles contains nearly 1,300 milligrams of sodium, while something that is low in sodium may have fewer than 600 milligrams.
And when eating out, check out the menu before choosing the restaurant. Also ask the server for the meal to be made with no salt added.
You may be also adding a lot of sodium to meals that can seem healthy. Watch out for the sodium level in dressing and sauces that you put in salads because they are usually filled with sodium.
Contributors to this news report include: Milvionne Chery, Field Producer; and Jamie Koczan, videographer and Editor.
WAYS TO LOWER SALT
BACKGROUND: The human body needs salt to function. Sodium is the main component of the body’s extracellular fluids, and it helps carry nutrients into the cells. Sodium also helps regulate other body functions, such as blood pressure and fluid volume. Sodium works on the lining of blood vessels to keep the pressure balance normal. The National Research Council of the National Academy of Sciences in Washington, D.C., has determined that the recommended safe minimum daily amount is about 500 milligrams of sodium with an upper limit of 2,400 milligrams. But, the council has said that lowering sodium intake to 1,800 milligrams would probably be healthier. Research has shown that most Americans consume two to three times the amount of sodium that is healthy for the human body, and an estimated 75 percent to 80 percent of that daily intake is coming from processed foods, particularly frozen and prepared foods and also fast foods and foods served at restaurants.
(Source: American Medical Association)
THE STUDY: The AMA and the Center for Science in the Public Interest are part of a growing movement, encouraging the FDA to set new limits on the amount of salt that can be added to foods. Food lobbying groups including the Food Products Association oppose such regulation. In Congressional hearings in late 2007, the AMA asked the FDA to set strict limits on salt in processed foods and work to better educate the public on the benefits of a low-sodium diet. The FDA has set new voluntary sodium targets, and the food manufacturing companies and restaurant that adopt the new targets will lower the sodium in their food. This means the consumer will now have the power to choose the healthier option.
HOW TO KEEP TRACK OF SALT: The American Heart Association says to lower your sodium intake you should start by tracking your sodium. Their website, www.heart.org, has a printable chart for you to use. In addition to tracking, the AHA offers many more tips:
- Check nutrition labels and look for the words soda and sodium or the symbol “Na.”
- Choose foods with potassium to counter the effects of sodium. This may even lower blood pressure.
- Use lower-sodium meats and low-fat, low-sodium cheeses and avoid piling on the condiments.
- Give pizza with no cheese a try! Instead. Load the pizza with chicken strips and veggies.
- Soup is another food item with loads of sodium. So when choosing a soup, aim for choosing one of the lower-sodium varieties.
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