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Heart Healthy Diet: Eight Easy Steps to Prevent Heart Disease, Part IV of IV

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6. Reduce the amount of sodium in your food


Low Salt Image

Eating large amounts of sodium contributes to high blood pressure, a risk factor for cardiovascular disease.   Therefore it is important to reduce sodium to achieve a heart healthy diet.  It is recommended to:

  • Healthy adults consume no more than 2,300 milligrams (mg) of sodium per day (about a teaspoon)
  • For ages 51+, African-Americans, or people who have been diagnosed with diabetes, high blood pressure, or chronic kidney disease should have no more than 1,500 mg of sodium a day

The first step to reduce salt intake is to reduce the salt you add to food at the dinner table or while cooking.   Since a lot of salt you eat comes from canned or processed foods, such as frozen dinners or soups it is best to minimize them.  Fresh foods and cooking your own soups and stews can reduce the salt you eat.   If you prefer the convenience of prepared meals and canned soups, look for reduced sodium ones.   Some foods that claim to be lower in sodium are actually seasoned with sea salt instead of regular table salt which are equally as bad for you.

Another way to reduce salt intake is to choose your condiments wisely.   Choose reduced sodium condiments and salt substitutes rather than salt.

Table 6 Sodium foods to choose and avoid

Heart Healthy Way

  • Reduced salt versions of condiments such as soy sauce or ketchup
  • Reduced salt prepared meals and canned soups
  • Herbs and spices
  • Salt substitutes

The Other Way

  • Soy cause and Ketchup
  • Canned soups and frozen dinners
  • Table salt

7. Plan ahead: Create daily menus

Now that you know the foods to avoid and the foods to feature in your heart healthy diet it’s time to put your plans into action.

It helps to create daily menus using the above six strategies.   Select foods for each meal and snack,that emphasizes fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.   Choose leaner protein sources and salty foods that are high in fat.   Finally watch your portion sizes and mix it up with your menu choices.   For instance,  if you have roasted salmon one evening, have a black-bean burger the next night.  T his helps you’ll get all of the nutrients you need.  Variety also makes your snacks and meals more interesting.

8. Occasionally allow yourself a treat

Allow yourself a treat every now and then.   Occasional potato chips or candy bar won’t derail your heart healthy diet.   However, don’t let it turn into an excuse for giving up on your healthy eating plan.   What is important is that healthy foods are eaten most of the time.

In conclusion, incorporate these eight tips into your life, and you’ll find that heart healthy eating is both enjoyable and doable.   With planning and a few simple substitutions, you can eat with your heart in mind.

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