Archive | May 17, 2011

For Lower Blood Pressure, Eat Less Sodium

by Donna Quirk, MBA RD LD
LMC Clinical Nutrition Manager

When most of us think about high blood pressure, we think about sodium. Research has shown that decreasing sodium in the diet will lower blood pressure. As a result, experts agree that we should all eat less than 2300 mg (1 teaspoon of salt) per day.

You should eat 1500 mg (2/3 teaspoon of salt) per day if you are 51 years old or older, African-American, or already have high blood pressure, diabetes, kidney disease, or heart problems.

The average American eats 3400 mg or more per day. We have room for improvement!

To decrease your sodium intake, pay attention to and eat less of the following:

•Processed and Prepared Foods – The majority of the sodium we eat comes from processed and prepared foods like frozen meals, canned soups, pizza, cold cuts and bacon, convenient boxed pasta and rice dinners, and fast food.

•Don’t be Fooled – Because of processing, foods that don’t taste salty may still have a lot of sodium. Breakfast cereals and baked goods can have 300 – 400 mg of sodium per serving.

Hint: Read food labels and try to avoid products with more that 200 mg of sodium per serving.

•Salt Shaker and Condiments – Salt in recipes, using the salt shaker, and condiments like soy sauce, ketchup, and salad dressings can really add up.

Hint: Leave salt out of recipes and water used to cook pasta, rice, and potatoes. Make homemade salad dressings with oil and vinegars. Start slow and work toward eliminating the salt shaker from the table.

Meeting the sodium recommendations is challenging but the health benefits are well worth it!