NUTRITION&FOOD Published February17, 2015 By Staff Reporter

Limiting Salt Intake For Better Health

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This February, considered heart month, it is better to focus on preventing heart ailments. Around 80% of heart attacks and strokes can be prevented through lifestyle modification. This includes the food we eat.

How much of everything we eat can take a toll on the body that can eventually lead to stroke and heart problems. There are many known risk factors for having lifestyle diseases like hypertension, stroke and heart problems. One of them is the increased intake of sodium or salt.

A high salt diet plays a major role in water retention or holding excess fluid in the body. It also affects the overall health of the heart.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that most Americans should consume less sodium. In fact, much of the sodium we consume is in the form of salt, and the huge majority of sodium we consume is in processed and restaurant foods. Also, high sodium intake can lead to increase in blood pressure and higher risk for heart attack and stroke.

According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans updated in 2010, they recommend that everyone age 2 years old and up should consume less than 2,300 milligrams (mg) of sodium each day. Some groups of people should further limit sodium intake to 1,500 mg per day, including adults age 51 or older, African Americans and anyone with conditions like high blood pressure, diabetes and chronic kidney disease.

Salt is one major source because it contains 40% sodium. Even if sodium is needed for survival, too much of everything may be bad for the health. According to the American Heart Association, most people consume about 3,400 milligrams of sodium a day - more than twice the 1,500 milligrams that is recommended.

Aside from that, the AHA has listed the six most common foods with excess sodium ingredients including bread and rolls, cold cuts and canned meats, pizza, poultry, soup and sandwiches. Some tips to reduce salt intake is to avoid seasoning food with table salt, reducing salt when cooking, and checking nutritional information of the food you are buying.

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