We hear it all the time. Eat healthy, get regular exercise and drink plenty of water. But have you considered the sodium content of the food you eat? If you take the time to look at labels you will find that Americans are being bombarded with salt daily. Check the labels on soups, snacks and processed meats and you might be surprised. A typical 10.5 oz can of chicken noodle soup has 890mg of salt. Snacks such as potato chips, salted nuts, popcorn, are full of sodium and are consumed daily by millions of Americans and cause many health problems every year in the United States.
More sodium filled foods include fish or poultry including bacon, cold cuts, ham, hot dogs, sausage, sardines, caviar and anchovies. Frozen breaded meats and dinners, such as burritos and pizza. Canned entrees, such as ravioli, spam and chili and salted nuts. Canned beans packed with salt are also to be avoided.
How The U.S. Ranks
In the U.S. the average sodium intake is about 3,400 mg per day. Although there are other countries that consume more sodium, the U.S. still ranks in the top 5 in the world. China and Canada are among countries with high consumption.
According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, the recommended intake should be limited to less than 2,300 mg per day or about 1 teaspoon of salt.
Why Lower Salt Content Is Important
Living a healthy lifestyle should include limiting salt intake mainly because of what high salt intake does to the body. It can cause blood vessels to constrict which makes the heart work harder to push blood throughout the body. This can cause high blood pressure and risk heart disease, heart failure, stroke or even disease of the kidney. Salt is used in so many of our foods to make them taste better and sometimes to even make us crave for certain drinks.
When we go to the movies and visit the concession stand the popcorn is freshly popped and smells so good but it is covered in salt and sometimes butter. Try asking for popcorn without salt or less salt next time you go to the movies, you might be surprised.
Another alternative is to visit your favorite store before going to the movies and buying healthier snacks such as raisins, unsalted nuts or cranberries. Same thing for sporting events….take your snacks with you to avoid the temptation of visiting the concession stand and buying sodium-filled foods that encourage you to also buy high priced soft drinks. Take more control of what you feed your body.
Foods Containing Lower Salt
You can eat well and still avoid foods with high sodium content. There are many fresh fruits and vegetables to choose from that are low in sodium: berries, pears, bananas, apples, peppers, broccoli, cauliflower and all sorts of greens. Also potatoes, eggs, avocado, yogurt, fish and whole-wheat breads. Unsalted nuts and seeds are very good also. As for drinks, there are teas, coffees and low sodium juices you can consume as well.
Impact on Blood Pressure and Health
The optimal blood pressure level is a reading under 120/80 mmHg. Readings over 120/80mmHg and up to 139/89mmHg are in the normal to high range. Blood pressure is considered high once it is over 140/90mmHG and you should consider having a visit with your doctor for treatment. Prolonged high blood pressure can go undetected and can cause heart disease, heart failure, stroke or even disease of the kidney. Besides exercise controlling your diet and sodium intake is the best way to have a positive impact on your blood pressure and overall health. There are many resources online that can help you make healthy choices when it comes to your diet.
Actions To Take
In order to eat healthy and lower salt intake you should eat fresh fruits and vegetables as mentioned earlier but you also want to avoid certain foods high in sodium. You can easily check the sodium content by looking at the label and generally avoid fast food such as burgers, fries, pizza and fried chicken. Many fast food outlets also are now offering baked items with lower salt and are much healthier. Avoid salty snacks, frozen dinners, processed meats, salt-filled soups, and condiments such as ketchup and mustard.
So what is processed meat?
It’s meat that has been preserved using several techniques including salting. These meats include hot dogs, salami, ham, bacon, beef jerky and many canned meats. Processed meats tend to have a much higher salt intake and should be avoided as much as possible.
When dining out talk to your waiter and let them know you aim to lower your salt intake. Many restaurants already have healthier options on their menus and aware of their customer preferences to minimize sodium intake.
One of the best ways to lower salt intake is to prepare your own meals. You can use lemon juice instead of salt. Use fresh herbs and substitute olive oil for salty salad dressing. Flavor food with garlic and ginger, both spices are good for you.
So in conclusion here are the main things you want to do to eat healthier and lower you salt intake.
A. Eat more potassium filled foods such as bananas and less foods with high sodium content.
B. Consume less processed foods including meats such as bacon.
C. Choose lower sodium options which you should see on the labels.
D. Overall eat more fruits and vegetables which are naturally lower in sodium.
E. Minimize the use of condiments such as ketchup and mustard and sauces which have high salt content.
F. Read the nutrition on the labels of foods for sodium content milligrams and
Recommended Dietary Allowance.
G. Avoid many instant foods which are loaded with sodium and reduce portion sizes.
H. Try seasoning foods with herbs and olive oil instead of salt as a healthier choice.
I.. Rinse canned vegetables to get rid of salts before cooking for consumption.
Good luck on your quest to a healthier you.
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