Monday, October 27, 2008

Sodium: the tasty killer!

Sodium is one of those metals in the middle of the periodic table that people need to consume regularly to survive. However, we don't need to eat very much of it (about 500 mg a day, although the USDA recommends a more generous 2300 mg), and most people eat far more than they need. Just about everything that comes in a bag, bottle, or served with french fries has much more sodium than you need: one cheeseburger from McDonalds? 750 mg.

High levels of sodium don't have the same health effects on everyone, but everyone can reduce their risk of high blood pressure and heart disease later in life by consuming less salt today. In general, you can reduce your salt intake by following some or all of these recommendations:

*Instead of using canned fruits and veggies, cook with frozen, or better yet, buy them fresh;
*Avoid processed meats, especially sandwich meats like bologna and spam;
*Drink juice or water instead of soda pop, and avoid pretzels, chips, and candy - these are also high in calories;
*Whenever possible, choose "no salt added" for staples like butter and tuna;
*Cook at home from fresh ingredients instead of heating up frozen dinners.

If you're worried about a family history of high blood pressure or cardiovascular disease, a group of conditions responsible for 30% of annual American deaths, it's never too early to start being salt-conscious. Healthy eating!

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