While at BlogHer 12’s HealthMinder sessions, I met the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (the CDC). Of course, I didn’t actually meet the CDC, but I did speak with representatives of the organization there to talk about cardiovascular health and the benefits of a low sodium diet. The CDC is one of my trusted sources of health information so when they talk… I listen.
I promise that reading further won’t cause heart issues, but not reading this might.
Launched by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) in 2011, its goal is to prevent 1 million heart attacks and strokes by 2017. Count me in for sure!! The CDC and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), are co-leading this important health initiative along with other federal agencies and private sector organizations, including the American Heart Association, the YMCA, the American Pharmacists Association, Walgreens, and United Health Care.
Overusing salt is the enemy.
Tell me that isn’t so, but it is!! Consuming too much sodium can lead to higher blood pressure. A higher blood pressure means that it takes more effort for your heart to pump, which contributes to heart disease and stroke. UGH… a bit from overusing the salt in my cutsy black cat salt shaker from Niagara Falls. Mostly though, the majority of sodium we consume is found in processed and restaurant foods.
Preventable but true Statistics
From Million Hearts: Cardiovascular disease is responsible for 1 out of 3 deaths in the U.S. Americans suffer more than 2 million heart attacks and strokes each year and everyday, 2,200 people die from cardiovascular disease. Important to note, is that heart disease and stroke are among the leading causes of disability in our country, with more than 3 million people reporting serious illness and decreased quality of life.
Eating our way to a healthier heart
There are everyday things we can do, such as make healthier food choices, which can help us prevent a heart attack or stroke from ever happening to us or a loved one. Not to say that it is easy. The One in Million initiative acknowledges that for some of us, eating less sodium is a challenge. For me, the saltshaker queen who has poured it on before even tasting, it has required a change in habit. But, it is not only about not using extra salt during or after cooking, it is about the foods we eat that are high in sodium. We all know that potato chips, salted nuts, corn chips, etc. are high in sodium. NO KIDDING. But don’t be so smug: did you know that cottage cheese and turkey breast lunchmeat also have high levels of sodium. Also, raw chicken and pork purchased at the grocery may have sodium injected. Now that was a surprise to me. Lesson here is to be choice-ful by checking labels. Know what the sodium content is in the foods you purchase. Choose fresh fruits and vegetables and other non-processed foods, as they have less sodium than pre-prepared foods. High sodium foods include canned soups, pasta dishes, pizza, bread and rolls.
How much sodium should we really have?
According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010 everyone 2 years and up should reduce sodium intake to less than 2,300 milligrams (mg) per day. People aged 51 and up, all African Americans, those who have high blood pressure, diabetes or chronic kidney disease should further reduce sodium intake to 1,500 mg per day.
What does that mean??
I can read minds that are thinking – ok, help me here. How many mg of sodium in a big fat laden chocolate chip cookie (actually, that really is my mind asking that)? One recipe I found had 39.6 mg of sodium per cookie using low fat and low sodium ingredients. Another recipe had 97 mg of sodium per cookie. Some other benchmarks are: 1 ounce of potato chips has 50 to 200 mg of sodium; 5 ounces of pork with barbecue sauce has 600 to 1,120 mg of sodium. (go to http://www.choosemyplate.gov/ for further information about healthy eating and dietary sodium).
You also can be One in a Million Hearts!
To learn more, visit the Million Hearts website where you will find information about the initiative and how to prevent heart attacks and strokes. Also, there are some helpful self-evaluation resources and health guides.
Let’s all agree to meet here in five years with healthy strong hearts. Will you be joining me?? Hope so!! In the meantime, I am going to go for a long walk, eat an apple and appreciate the natural food flavors that aren't masked because of too much salt. REALLY!!
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