Here’s a little game to play next time you are heading down the aisles at the supermarket. Before you put each item in your cart, check the Sodium amount per serving under “Nutrition Facts.” If it’s Cream of Mushroom soup, it might say something like 850mg and list a percentage. That little fact explains that each serving of a half cup of soup has 850 milligrams of sodium (one of the primary elements of salt) and the percentage (around 35%) is the percent of YOUR DAILY TOTAL OF SALT that serving contains.
“Let’s face it. We all need salt,” says McLeod Cardiologist Thomas Stoughton. “Our bodies use salt to keep fluids in balance. But too much salt promotes high blood pressure, which makes the heart work harder and leads to heart disease, heart failure and stroke.”
THE BAD NEWS
Dietary guidelines call for no more than 2300 milligrams a day, about the amount of salt in a teaspoon.
So that little cup of mushroom soup contains more than 1/3 of your daily sodium needs. A single turkey sandwich with one slice of bread, mustard, lettuce and cheese could add 1,500 mg of sodium – 2/3 of your total recommended daily input.
For most people, our bodies create all the sodium they need. But we consume a lot of sodium and 75 percent of all the salt we consume comes from processed foods and restaurant food – especially so-called “fast food.” As a result, nearly nine in ten US children eat more sodium than recommended and one in nine youths have higher than normal blood pressure.
THE BETTER NEWS
In addition to reading labels as you shop, here are some other ways to help your heart by reducing the amount of salt or sodium you consume:
OTHER ACTION YOU CAN TAKE
In addition to watching the sodium and salt you consume, be alert for foods carrying fats that become bad cholesterol in your body. Add some exercise to your daily or weekly routine. If you have high blood pressure, ask your family physician whether you should see a cardiologist for a full heart exam and diagnosis.
Sources include: McLeod Health, US Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, Harvard Health, US Food & Drug Administration