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Bert Jones column Feb. 26, 2013

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Bert Jones column Feb. 26, 2013

Shake the salt habit for your heart’s sake

One way to lower your blood pressure and decrease your risk of heart disease is to eat less salt. Most Americans eat too much salt (sodium chloride).

You can help protect yourself against high blood pressure, heart disease and stroke by reducing the amount of salt and other forms of sodium in your diet. It is recommended that we eat no more than 2,400 milligrams a day. Or, if you can, 1,500 milligrams a day. That includes all salt and sodium in your diet, whether added at the table or in cooking or already in processed foods. Get in the habit of checking food labels to see how much sodium is in a serving of a particular food and how much is considered a serving to help you keep track of your daily consumption.

Here are some tips on ways to reduce your intake of salt and sodium:

nUse reduced sodium or no-salt-added products. For example, choose low- or reduced–sodium, or no-salt-added versions of foods and condiments when available.

nBuy fresh, frozen or canned with “no-salt-added” vegetables.

nUse fresh poultry, fish and lean meat, rather than canned, smoked or processed types.

nChoose ready-to-eat breakfast cereals that are lower in sodium.

nLimit cured foods (such as bacon and ham), foods packed in brine (such as pickles, pickled vegetables, olives and sauerkraut) , and condiments (such as MSG, horseradish, ketchup and barbecue sauce). Limit even lower-sodium versions of soy sauce and teriyaki sauce – treat these condiments as you do table salt.

nBe spicy instead of salty. In cooking and at the table, flavor foods with herbs, spices, lemon, lime, vinegar or salt-free seasoning blends.

nCook rice, pasta and hot cereals without salt. Cut back on instant flavored rice, pasta and cereal mixes, which usually have added salt.

nChoose convenience foods that are lower in sodium. Cut back on frozen dinners, mixed dishes such as pizza, packaged mixes, canned soups or broths and salad dressings – these often have a lot of sodium.

nRinse canned foods, such as tuna and vegetables, to remove some of the sodium.

Change is usually hard, Even if you don’t feel you are ready to make big changes, I would encourage you to start reading food labels to become more aware of the amounts of sodium in the foods you eat and experiment with some of the salt-free seasonings.

Bert Jones is Health and Human Sciences educator with Purdue Cooperative Extension Service – Hancock County. Contact her at (317) 462-1113, ext. 227, or at bnjones@purdue.edu.

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