Dietary sodium is a prime cause of hypertension and related diseases
January 19, 2011
The American Heart Association (AHA) has called for reducing the amount of sodium in Americans' diets to a recommended daily maximum of 1,500 mg. The 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans similarly suggests that Americans reduce their sodium intake, pointing out that African Americans, people with high blood pressure and adults over age 51 should limit sodium to 1,500 mg or less per day.
The average American consumes more than 3,000 mg/day of sodium, and over 75% of that comes from packaged, processed and restaurant foods, according to a research report in Circulation. Excess sodium affects the heart, kidneys and blood vessels, and it is a leading cause of hypertension (high blood pressure).
The report also states that a nationwide effort to reduce sodium intake by 1,200 mg/day could result in up to 120,000 fewer coronary heart disease events, 66,000 fewer strokes, 99,000 fewer heart attacks and 92,000 fewer deaths each year. It could save the nation $10 to $24 billion in health care costs annually.
The following recommendations can help you reduce the sodium in your diet:
- Buy fresh, plain frozen, or canned "no salt added" vegetables.
- Use fresh poultry, fish and meats.
- Use herbs and salt-free seasoning blends.
- Cook rice, pasta and hot cereals without salt.
- Cut back on instant or flavored rice, pasta, and cereal mixes.
- Cut back on frozen dinners, pizza, packaged mixes, canned soups or broths, and salad dressings.
- Rinse canned foods, such as tuna, to remove some sodium.
- Buy low- or reduced-sodium, or no-salt-added foods.
- Choose breakfast cereals that are lower in sodium.
- Ask for appetizers and entrees with no or low salt at restaurants and take-out venues.
Sources: National Heart, Blood and Lung Institute; American Heart Association news release; and Appel L, et al. "The importance of population-wide sodium reduction as a means to prevent cardiovascular disease and stroke: A call to action from the American Heart Association." Circulation 2011.