Americans consume 50% more sodium than recommended.
High sodium consumption raises blood pressure which is a major risk factor
for heart disease and stroke–the nation’s first and third
leading causes of death. Most Americans eat more than double the amount
of salt recommended by experts. More than 90 percent of salt we eat comes
from places other than the salt shaker: in canned goods like soup and
packaged foods like frozen dinners and restaurant foods. It’s also
hiding in breads and cereals.
To help lower blood pressure, experts recommend that people consume fewer
than 2,400 milligrams of sodium a day—about the amount found in
a teaspoon of salt. People with high blood pressure should aim for 1,500
milligrams. Decreasing sodium intake could prevent thousands of deaths
annually. Nearly 400,000 deaths each year are attributed to high blood pressure.
The DASH eating plan (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) is a simple
heart healthy diet that can help prevent or lower high blood pressure.
"When salt intake is reduced, blood pressure begins decreasing within
weeks on average,” says
James M. Parker, MD
, of North Oaks Cardiology Clinic, who recommends choosing a heart healthy
diet approach, enjoying more fresh fruits and vegetables and looking for
This diet is LOW in sodium, cholesterol, saturated and total fat, and
HIGH in fruits and vegetables, fiber, potassium and low-fat dairy products.
DASH also lowers risk of several types of cancer, heart disease, stroke,
heart failure, kidney stones and development of diabetes. It also features
menus with whole grains, fish, poultry and nuts, and offers limited portions
of red meats, sweets and sugary beverages. The DASH diet is a healthy
plan-plus it’s designed for the whole family. For more information
on the DASH diet, see
Choose a Heart Healthy Diet.
Making other lifestyle changes, like more physical activity while on the
DASH eating plan, gives you the biggest benefits.
Eating less sodium may prevent, lower and control blood pressure. If you
are 40 years of age or older, African-American or have high-blood pressure,
you should consider a diet with less sodium to reduce your risk of heart-related problems.
Tasty Stand-Ins For Salt
Keep your kitchen stocked with the following ingredients to make it easier
to plan and prepare meals.
Add Flavor with Herbs and Spices (fresh and dried):
• Ground black pepper
• Cayenne pepper
• Chili powder
• Crushed red pepper
• Paprika/smoked paprika
• Salt-free seasoning mix