February is National Heart Month, so each Friday in February we will be posting an article about steps a person can take to reduce their risk of heart disease. Our featured blogger is Kristy Krause, a nurse with Agnesian HealthCare. Kristy is also our Cardiac Educator.
Did you know that the latest recommendation from the American Heart Association (AHA) is for everyone to decrease their salt intake to 1500 mg per day or less? The average American consumes more than twice that amount of salt in their diet!
There are easy ways to reduce your salt intake every day, such as paying attention to nutrition labels, limiting the amount of meals that you eat out and shaking the salt shaker habit. If you can get rid of the salt shaker from the table and not add it to the foods when cooking, you can reduce your intake by about 30 percent! That is one drastic step right there! Using other flavorful additives to season your food, such as peppers or powders and other salt-free seasonings, will help to keep your meal tasting great and your heart thanking you for decreasing its workload by decreasing your blood pressure. The next time you are in the store, look for your favorite foods made with reduced or low-sodium recipes and give them a try. You may not mind the change at all, or you can add other seasonings or a small amount of salt at home. At least then you know what is going in to the food you are eating. When eating out try to pick items with less salt, or ask for your meal to be made without added salt if possible. You can enjoy your fries once in a while, but next time, try asking for them without all the salt - or better yet choose a side salad with a heart healthy dressing. Condiments can also hide a lot of salt, so use them sparingly.
It takes time, but if you slowly reduce the amount of salt you eat over time, you will not even know its missing. A lot of little adjustments in your diet can add up to a big difference, so start small and think BIG!