Reduce Your Sodium Intake for a Healthier Heart

heart healthyThere are many parts of the body that should be kept healthy. But the one that gets constant attention and is researched often is the heart.

Heart disease is a major killer of thousands of people annually. Whether it’s a heart attack or stroke, your cardiovascular system plays a vital role. And one of the key contributors of heart disease and hypertension is the amount of sodium and salt that you consume.

It may not seem like a big deal when you’re a teen or in your twenties, but as you get into your thirties and beyond sodium can cause your blood pressure to spike. It will also cause your body to retain water when it shouldn’t.

A couple of recent studies documented in the New England Journal of Medicine indicated that well over a million lives worldwide could be saved annually if people would simply reduce their consumption of sodium.

I know this isn’t an easy thing to do. Popcorn, potato chips, pizza, hamburgers, hot dogs, and more are foods that most of us grew up loving. But they contain high amounts of sodium. That’s bad.

The recommend intake of sodium per day is 2300 milligrams (mg). Now if your ability to convert metric system number to good old USA amounts, that amount is equal to about 1 teaspoon of salt.

And if belong to an “at risk” group, the recommended amount is much lower…like 1500 mg. People who fall into the “at risk” category include people over age 50, African-Americans, and those who live with hypertension, diabetes, kidney disease, have a family history of heart disease.

Just to give you a couple of examples of why it doesn’t take much to reach 2300 mg of sodium per day, check this out.

A plain hot dog contains about 800 mg of sodium. Throw in a bun, ketchup, relish, mustard, and any of your other favorites and you’re approaching 1000 mg. Add a bag of chips and a soda and you just passed half of the recommended daily intake. That was lunch, so what did you have for breakfast and what’s for dinner?

Next, a nice slice of “cheese” pizza contains about 600 mg of sodium. Thrown on additional toppings such as pepperoni, sausage, bacon, etc., and the sodium meter begins to fly up the charts. Have a second slice and you’ve just about blown your daily budget.

I’m just breaking it down for you in a very simple and straight forward way that you can understand.

So if you fall into one of the risk groups or want to avoid falling into one of those above-mentioned groups, then it’s best to lower your sodium intake.

You can do this in a number of ways. First avoid lots of salty and highly processed foods. If you read the label and it has lots of complex words that don’t seem to relate to anything raised on a farm or grown in the ground, then leave it on the shelf.

It all comes down to being conscious of what you’re eating and making the effort to unlearn some poor habits that you’ve gotten comfortable following for many years.