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Salt and Your Heart

Cutting Back on Salt for Your Heart

Salt’s Effects

You’ve no doubt heard that salt’s bad for you. While the truth is your body needs salt, too much can be very bad for you.

On average, Americans eat  4,000-5,000 mg of salt every day, and your body only needs about 500 mg a day. That’s a big difference. One that can be a big problem if you have high blood pressure.

And it’s not just about what you add to your food. 75% of your sodium intake comes from processed foods. Salt adds flavor and keeps things fresh, so food manufacturers use a lot of it.

A study in Hypertension: Journal of the American Heart Association, found a high-salt diet may decrease how well meds used to treat high blood pressure work.

So, if you’re currently taking meds for or have high blood pressure, a low-salt diet could help them work.

Clean Up Your Diet

While you might want to talk to your doctor before you drastically cut back on salt, there are a lot of things you can do yourself to cut back that are good for you no matter what.

  • Stop buying heavily processed foods like corn oil and soda.
  • Shop around the outside edge of the grocery store and you’ll hit all the spots with the freshest foods.
  • Read food labels. Those with fewer and simpler ingredients are best. The longer the list, the more room there is for chemicals, sugar, salt, and oils.
  • Cook more at home. Restaurants, especially chains, use heavily processed foods.
  • Train your tongue. If you are used to salt, sugar, and fat, you’ll need time to appreciate the flavor of natural foods.
  • Add other seasonings and flavors to keep your meals delicious and interesting:
    • Allspice: Look for a low- or no-sodium options for seasoning meats, gravy, and even tomatoes.
    • Almond Extract: Great for puddings, desserts, and fruit.
    • Basil: Sprinkle on some fresh or dried basil to add a kick to fish, lamb, salads, soups, and sauces.
    • Chives: Add a light onion flavor to salads, sauces, sides, and soups.
    • Garlic: Fresh garlic is good for you and very flavorful.
    • Ginger: Try this on chicken and fish.
    • Lemon Juice: Make your lean meats and fish pop.
    • Dry Mustard:  Add to meat, marinades, homemade salad dressings, and veggies.
    • Onion Powder: Good for marinades, meat, and veggies.

Eating a low-sodium diet can be easy and delicious, it just takes a little planning and great recipes. Visit our Pinterest to find all kinds of healthy recipes you can make at home.

Drive Thru Choices

Smart Eating in the Drive Thru

Fast food can be easy, quick, and affordable. And there’s going to be times, like running around after school and work, but before your kid’s big game, that you just don’t have time to go home and cook. But, you should be careful to eat smart when you’re running through the drive thru.

From 2007 to 2010, American adults got 11.3% of their total daily calories from fast food. And when many fast food meals pack a high-calorie punch, it’s important to make the smartest choices possible.

Tips for the Drive Thru

Don’t add salt.

Fast food places are already adding plenty of salt to their food, so don’t add extra from the shaker to your fries.

Pick smart toppings.

Ketchup can have quite a bit of sugar, but sauces like honey mustard and BBQ have even more, and mayo is high in fat. Mustard is the perfect low-fat condiment. And pick veggies like onion, tomatoes, pickles, and lettuce instead of cheese or bacon.

Pay attention to names and menu descriptions.

Things that are labeled deep-fried, panfried, basted, batter-dipped, breaded, creamy, crispy, Alfredo, or in cream sauce are going to be high in calories, fat, and salt.

Don’t assume it’s healthy because it sounds like a health food.

Some fast food salads, like those with crispy chicken, lots of cheese, and heavy dressings, like ranch, can have more than a 1,000 calories! Some burgers have as few as 250 calories. Pay attention to what’s on each item.

Skip the soda.

Drink water, tea, or even coffee instead. Even diet soda is not helping your health.

Look at ALL of the menu.

Some places serve breakfast all day that can have healthier options. Kids’ menus can give you smaller, lower calorie portions. And you can always ask to remove or substitute certain ingredients.

Use technology.

More and more menus are listing calories, but it can be hard to read that in the drive thru while you’re also trying to choose and order. But technology makes it easy to check calorie-counts and nutrition info online. Some places, like Starbucks, even have nutrition info on their app. Take a minute before you go or while you’re waiting in a long line to check what your healthiest options are.

Stop your cravings.

If you’re hitting up the drive thru because of a craving, not because you’re short on time, learn how to make healthier, cheaper, and delicious versions of your favorite takeout at home. Our Pinterest can help you learn how.

Fitness Magazine also has some great recommendations for what you should order at some of your favorite fast food stops.