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Heart Health Month Tip: Cut Down On Sodium

 Most Americans get too much sodium in their diets. Excess sodium causes the body to retain too much water, contributing to conditions like high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and kidney problems.

You might think the answer is just to hide the salt shaker at the table, but most sodium in the American diet comes from restaurant food and packaged foods, even ones that don’t taste salty, like cookies and breads. This extra salt extends the food’s shelf life but may shorten yours.

Some steps you can take to reduce the sodium in your diet:

  • Prepare more of your meals at home from fresh ingredients.
  • Season your foods with herbs and spices other than salt.
  • Make your own salad dressing from vinegar, oil, and lemon or lime juice.
  • Check the nutrition labels on packaged, canned, and frozen foods and look for those that contribute 5% or less of the Daily Value (DV) of sodium.
  • When you buy packaged foods, look for those that come without salt or sauces already added.
  • If packaged food comes with a seasoning packet, try using half or less of it.
  • Check labels on meats and cheeses, which can contain added sodium.
  • Eat more fresh fruits and vegetables, and milk products like fat-free milk and yogurt, as these foods contain potassium and can help lower blood pressure.

If you don’t know how to cook without adding salt, consider buying low-sodium cookbook or searching for heart-healthy recipes online. You’ll find that cutting back on salt doesn’t have to mean cutting back on flavor.