How to reduce your salt intake for heart health

Use these tips to reduce your sodium intake and help prevent heart disease.

Heart disease remains the number one killer in the U.S. and high blood pressure is a major contributor. Find out how to reduce your salt intake to lower and control your blood pressure.

Uncontrolled high blood pressure remains a major contributor to heart disease, which unfortunately kills about 610,000 people every year in the United States- that is one in every four deaths, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The good news is that we have some control over preventing heart disease and that’s by lowering your blood pressure, which could be achieved by lowering your salt intake. According to the American Heart Association, most adults should consume no more than 2,400 mg of salt per day and an ideal limit of 1,400 mg per day. The average American consumes 3,400 mg of salt per day and most Americans underestimate their salt intake.

For reference, 1 teaspoon of salt = 2,300 mg of sodium.

So should you get rid of your salt shaker? That might help a little, but the culprit is not your table salt. Research shows that 75 percent of salt consumed by Americans comes from added salts in processed foods and restaurant foods.

Here are some tips to reduce your salt intake:

  • Read nutrition labels.
  • Cut down as much as you can on “instant” foods such as salted snacks and frozen and canned meals. Try preparing your own meals from scratch instead.
  • Buy fresh vegetables when you can or buy low-salt or no salt added canned vegetables.
  • If you buy canned vegetables or beans, rinsing them can cut down on some of the salt.
  • Season your food with herbs and spices. Try seasoning your meats and vegetables with coriander, ginger, turmeric, garlic and onion powder. Avoid seasoning salts such as garlic salt.
  • If you eat out, ask the restaurant to prepare your food without salt or added sauces. Or ask for the sauce on the side.
  • Also, if you eat out, you can eat a smaller portion. Less food = less sodium.

For more information on eating healthy and living a healthier lifestyle, contact your local Michigan State University Extension office or visit msue.msu.edu.

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