Is convenience forcing you to choose sodium over your heart?

Is convenience forcing you to choose sodium over your heart?

With people increasingly making nutrition choices based on convenience and taste, the choices involve not only excess sodium but a host of health issues impacting cardiovascular health

Sodium is an essential chemical element necessary for proper functioning of the human body found in many foods such as table salt, a mixture of sodium and chlorine. While sodium is not necessarily a bad thing, most Americans consume it in excess of 3.4 grams per day. According to the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI), the average person must limit the consumption to less than 2.4 grams per day.

When consumed beyond the recommended amount it causes imbalances in the body fluids. Kidneys control the amount of sodium in the body and too much of it leads to excess build up in the blood stream causing high blood pressure and heart disease. Sodium also helps in maintaining the proper function of nerves and muscles and is an intrinsic element for the balance of fluids in the body.

Sodium can be found in just about any food, even if it lacks a salty taste. People often consider salty as being synonymous with sodium. However, there are certain foods, sauces, drinks and other consumables that contain sodium that do not fall under the salty category. For example, a chocolate chip cookie may taste sweet, but can have high sodium content.

8 ways to reduce sodium intake in your daily diet

  • Choose unsalted vegetables whether fresh, frozen, or canned
  • Drain and lightly rinse away any liquids known to contain high sodium especially from canned foods like Vienna sausage and tuna
  • Choose home cooked meals over ready-to-eat foods and microwaveable snacks high in sodium
  • Some foods contain an entire day’s sodium requirement, make sure to check the nutrition label or check the serving quantity
  • Replace salt with other herbs and spices to make food tastier and make sure they are unsalted
  • Canned meats double the sodium intake due to the additional salt added during cooking along with the pre-added salt in the preservatives, opt for fresh meats instead

A few precautions, some simple changes to your diet and activity level, managing other medical conditions, and taking your prescribed medications are all good ways to a healthy heart.

Meenachi – Trichy Unit,
Sr. Clinical Analysist
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