The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the American Heart Association call it the silent killer. With 1 in 10 U.S. deaths attributed to excess salt consumption, it is important more than ever that American’s adopt some simple changes to reduce their sodium intake and lower their blood pressure with this expert advice.
Everyone over 18 should have their blood pressure checked twice a year. Having your blood pressure checked is a simple process, often taking less than a minute. You can ask your doctor at your next appointment, or visit your local pharmacy; many have electronic cuff units that measure blood pressure for free. If you’re not checking, you’re guessing.
Americans’ sodium intake is largely from processed, packaged, and restaurant foods. Having simple, fresh dinners at home and packing leftovers for lunch will make huge decreases in sodium intake, a major way to lower blood pressure. Aim to eat out one less meal per week.
LoSalt, a blend of two naturally occurring mineral salts, contains 66% less than sodium than regular salt. LoSalt has all the flavor of regular salt and can be used in just the same way as regular salts – added to your food while cooking or sprinkled on a finished dish for enhanced taste. Add LoSalt to your cart during your next grocery trip.
Stress often leads people to overeat, smoke or drink, all of which are known to raise blood pressure. Say no to one event or responsibility that is not a priority each week. Use your newfound free time to enjoy a hobby that relaxes you like biking, painting or gardening. Blood pressure will drop as your stress decreases.
A number of scientific studies have suggested that potassium aids in decreasing blood pressure. Good sources of potassium include: white beans, spinach, avocados and mushrooms. Throw a handful of spinach in your smoothie, toss some mushrooms in your pasta, or sprinkle LoSalt (high in potassium) on your eggs to up your potassium intake.
One of most important life changes a person can make to improve their health is to start reading food labels. People should check labels while they are still in the grocery store so they can avoid purchasing products with high sodium content. Also because recommended daily allowance (RDA) percentages are calculated per serving, check the serving size. Some products will report a small or unrealistic serving size which in turn distorts the true amount of sodium one will be consume if they eat more than the suggested serving size.
Be aware of the different names for salt and sodium on food labels. In particular be wary of processed food items that contain the following high sodium ingredients: Monosodium glutamate, sodium chloride, baking soda, baking powder, disodium phosphate.
There are many sources of flavor beyond salt. When a craving for salting food hits, try adding flavor to your meal with a squeeze of lemon, a splash of vinegar, or a handful of fresh herbs. You may even discover new flavors that you enjoy more than salt.
Often canned and frozen vegetables have salt added to preserve freshness and flavor. When available, choose fresh vegetables instead to eliminate this hidden source of sodium. If canned are your only options, just the produce a quick rinse in fresh water to remove some of the sodium it was packed it.
Often food manufacturers will add additional salt and sugar to mask the unpleasant flavors of low fat foods. Make sure to check the sodium and sugar content on these items so your healthy choice isn’t sabotaged.
Reducing your sodium intake doesn’t have to be difficult, but it will require some small changes in how you buy, prepare and think about food choices. Try implementing these simple steps to see your blood pressure drop and your health improve. Your health is worth it!
More expert advice about Heart Disease
Photo Credits: Grains of salt by Flickr: Kevin Dooley; Check Man, Cross Man and Jump Man © ioannis kounadeas - Fotolia.com