The #1 food you should avoid—and 3 ways to cut back
Despite the fact that I'm a dietitian and nutrition editor, I have a growing list of healthier eating goals: consume fewer sweets, diversify my whole-grain choices, drink more water, eat more (sustainable) fish... The list keeps going, but I don't want to bore you, particularly because what matters most is what's at the top: eat less salt. Here's why: cutting back on salt can have a major (positive) impact on your blood pressure (even for someone like me with blood pressure that falls on the lower end of normal) and your overall health.
When the American Heart Association recently announced its new recommended sodium limit of 1,500 milligrams a day (down from the current limit of 2,300 mg daily), it also pulled together some startling statistics in its journal Circulation:
- Lowering your sodium intake could reduce your risk of developing high blood pressure by 20 percent, according to one study.
- Research shows that cutting back on sodium lowers blood pressure in adults with "normal" blood pressure-as well as in those with high blood pressure. Other studies have shown similar results in adolescents, children and infants (yes, I meant to write infants).
- Blood pressure-related diseases like coronary heart disease and stroke are the leading causes of death in the U.S. And another blood pressure-related disease-heart failure-is the leading cause of hospitalization.
The moral of the story? Despite my healthy blood pressure, I'll be working toward taming my salt habit-and I'll be on the lookout for low- and reduced-sodium and no-salt-added versions of my favorite packaged and canned foods.
And because sodium doesn't just lurk in packaged and canned foods, I'll be implementing these easy ways to trim 1,000 mg of sodium:
- Trade a meaty personal pan pizza for a veggie version.
- Eat 1 less tablespoon of soy sauce with my sushi.
- Make my afternoon snack carrots instead of pretzels.
What are your tips and tricks for cutting your sodium intake?
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