Planning a grocery store trip this weekend?

Pump up your heart health by choosing foods that are low in sodium

A high-sodium diet can cause high blood pressure. High blood pressure is a risk factor for heart disease. Heart disease is the leading cause of death worldwide. Need we say more? Now here’s the science: Sodium can increase blood pressure because it holds excess fluid in the body, creating an added burden on the heart. This can not only lead to heart disease, but can also have other harmful effects on your health, including increased risk for stroke, heart failure, osteoporosis, stomach cancer and kidney disease.

To reduce these risks, the American Heart Association suggests lowering the amount of sodium we consume to 1,500 mg per day.

Reduce the sodium in your diet (Tips from the American Heart Association)

  • Read the Nutrition Facts label to compare and find foods lower in sodium.
  • Choose fresh fruits and vegetables, when possible.
  • Limit the amount of processed foods you eat and your portion size.
  • Avoid adding salt when cooking and/or eating.
  • Learn to use spices and herbs to enhance the taste of your food.
    (Most spices naturally contain very small amounts of sodium, but read the label to be sure.)
  • Add fresh lemon juice instead of salt to fish and vegetables.
  • Specify how you want your food prepared when dining out. Ask for your dish to be prepared without salt.
  • Take control of what’s in your food by cooking more at home.
  • Choose foods with potassium. They counter the effects of sodium and may help lower your blood pressure.

Did you know a lot of common foods are packed with excess sodium? The American Heart Association just came out with what it calls “The Salty Six.” These are common foods we eat every day that typically have high amounts of sodium. Are you guilty and don’t know it? Here is the AHA’s list of the salty six:

  1. Breads and rolls
  2. Cold cuts and cured meats
  3. Pizza
  4. Poultry
  5. Sandwiches

As you gear up for your grocery store run this weekend, keep the Salty Six in mind, and look for foods that help you build a heart-healthy diet.

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