February is American Hearth Month and we will be focusing on ways to improve your heart health this month!
It is well recognized among doctors and nutrition professionals that too much salt is a bad thing. High levels of sodium leads to hypertension and high blood pressure, of which both are major stressors on the heart and makes it work much harder than it should. So why not be as good to your heart as it is to you? Here are a number of easy ways to decrease sodium intake:
- Cut out (or decrease) the amount of processed foods you consume, especially deli meats, frozen meals, soups, condiments and snack items.
- Use fresh herbs when cooking for added flavor, such as cilantro, thyme, lemon juice, parsley, rosemary, basil, and dill just to name a few.
- Enjoy spices to enhance flavors! Some favorites include garlic, oregano, black pepper, cayenne pepper, bay leaves, curry powders, turmeric, chili, and so many other wonderful options.
- Add a little vinegar, wine, lemon, lime or other citrus to add a zesty kick to foods when cooking.
- Use salt only sparingly when cooking and avoid adding any at the table when eating.
- Look for nutrition labels that indicate the food is low-sodium (140 mg per serving) or no salt has been added to the food.
- Beware of how much cheese you use as it contains a lot of sodium.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommends consuming no more than 2,300 mg of sodium daily up to the age of 50, and reducing that amount to 1,500 mg daily for persons age 51 and older. You’ll be pleased to find that as you start to decrease the amount of sodium you consume, the more your palate will change and not desire salty foods as much.
Here’s to a healthy, happy heart!