For those who are seeking to change their lifestyle after having heart problems, and desire to incorporate a healthy heart disease diet, beware of salt! Even if you never pick up a salt shaker at the dinner table, you may be getting an unhealthy amount of salt in your diet. An abundance of studies indicates that too much salt puts people at risk for not only heart disease, but also cancer, osteoporosis, obesity, diabetes and the health problems that accompany high blood pressure. There is some controversy about salt’s role in raising blood pressure, but research indicates that at least half of the people with high blood pressure are salt sensitive. These people benefit greatly from reducing the amount of sodium in their diets. As for the other half who isn’t salt sensitive, reducing salt intake can help lower the risks for other problems that affect those who get too much sodium.
What do the Numbers Say?
The evidence for negative health impact from salt is so great that the FDA is in the process of revising its sodium guidelines to encourage people to protect their heart and health. It is possible that the new recommendations will be as low as 1,500 mg of sodium daily, which is the equivalent of about two-thirds of a teaspoon of table salt. Prior to this revision, the recommendation was for less than 2,300 mg. Statistics show that Americans consume an average of 3,400 mg of sodium every day, a frighteningly high number.
High blood pressure is a complex problem that may have compound causes. It may not be as simple as just cutting salt in the diet but this is a great first step to take in taking control of managing your high blood pressure. It is well proven that high blood pressure increases the risk for heart attacks and stroke and causes damage to the blood vessels. This damage can lead to kidney failure and hardening of the arteries, both of which further raise blood pressure.
Recent studies have indicated that those with high salt intake have increased calcium loss in the bones causing weakening and eventually osteoporosis. Other studies have shown that too much salt can increase insulin resistance, possibly leading to Type 2 diabetes. Certain cancers have even been linked to eating a diet overabundant in salty foods.
How to Lower Sodium Intake?
So what can you do to protect your heart by lowering sodium intake? First, be fully aware that salt is hidden in almost all processed foods. Without ever picking up the salt shaker and eating a normal diet of whole grains, salads, pasta with pre-made sauce, sandwiches, and flavored yogurt for a snack, daily sodium content can exceed 6,000mg.
Where is it all coming from? Even heart healthy foods seem to be packed with salt. The biggest culprits are pre-made soups, sauces, frozen foods, canned goods, and boxed meals. Read the nutrition label and ingredients, noticing how just one cup of soup or a half of a cup of spaghetti sauce can have one-third or more of the daily recommended amount of sodium. Read labels carefully, even labels of foods that you wouldn’t think have added sodium like diet pop. Look for salt and sodium in the ingredients.
A healthy heart disease diet means eating most meals at home and cooking from scratch. This way you can control the amount of salt in your diet. Season with pepper, garlic, herbs and spices and buy low-sodium products whenever possible. Try a cleansing diet for a week to clear the excess sodium from your system and to reprogram your taste buds. You’ll be amazed at the difference you’ll see in not only your health, but your enjoyment of the subtle flavors of richly seasoned foods.
If you know a bit about pizza, you know it is laden with sodium. Here’s a video showcasing the preparation of a healthy whole wheat pizza at home; a great way to significantly reduce the sodium content
Credit: Heart Disease Diet – The Dangers of Too Much Salt