In addition to monitoring your blood pressure, reducing sodium intake is a great way to keep your heart healthy. Per the American Heart Association (AHA), too much sodium in your system puts an extra burden on your heart and blood vessels, which may lead to or raise high blood pressure.
“There are many factors in keeping your heart healthy and having a handle on your blood pressure and sodium intake are effective tools in preventing heart disease,” said Dirk Timm, Medical Program Director with Community Health Partners. “Whether you have high blood pressure, are at risk for heart disease or want to keep your heart healthy the Y has resources that can help achieve better health.”
American Heart Month Tips: Sodium Reduction
February is American Heart Month, and we've rounded up the following tips from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to help you and your family reduce the amount of sodium in your diet. (Did you know everyone, including kids, should try to reduce their sodium intake to less than 2,300 milligrams per day? That's about 1 teaspoon of salt!)
Most of the sodium we eat is found in processed foods. Eat highly processed foods less often and in smaller portions—especially cheesy foods, such as pizza; cured meats, such as bacon, sausage, hot dogs, and deli/luncheon meats; as well as ready-to-eat foods, like canned chili, ravioli and soups. Fresh foods are generally lower in sodium.
Enjoy home-prepared foods
Cook more often at home—where you're in control of what’s in your food. Preparing your own foods allows you to limit the amount of salt in them.
Fill up on veggies and fruits—they are naturally low in sodium
Eat plenty of vegetables and fruits—fresh or frozen. Eat a vegetable or fruit at every meal.
Adjust your taste buds
Cut back on salt little by little—and pay attention to the natural tastes of various foods! Your taste for salt may lessen over time. Additionally, keep salt off the kitchen counter and the dinner table and substitute spices, herbs, garlic, vinegar or lemon juice to season foods.
Boost your potassium intake
Choose foods with potassium, which may help to lower your blood pressure. Potassium is found in vegetables and fruits, such as potatoes, beet greens, tomato juice and sauce, sweet potatoes, beans (white, lima, kidney), and bananas. Other sources of potassium include yogurt, clams, halibut, orange juice and milk.
“The Walk with Ease (WWE) program provided at the YMCA is led by a certified WWE instructor in a group setting either on land or in water. The program involves education, stretching and strengthening exercises along with a group walk to allow you to receive the multitude of heart health benefits attained from physical activity.”
What are your tried and true tips for reducing sodium in your diet?