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Celebrate World Heart Day by cutting the salt

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Did you know that September 29 is this year's World Heart Day? According to the World Heart Federation, the focus of this year’s World Heart Day is creating heart-healthy environments: “By ensuring that people are able to make heart-healthy choices wherever they live, work and play, World Heart Day 2014 encourages us all to reduce our cardiovascular risk, and promotes a heart-healthy planet for those around us.”

World Heart Day Banner

When I think of heart-healthy environments, I think of a food supply that offers plenty of opportunities to make food choices that promote our heart health. Unfortunately, our food supply is the leading source of sodium in American diets because more than 75 percent of the sodium we eat is already in our food before we buy it. We control some of the sodium we eat by our use of the salt shaker, but that makes up just about 10 percent of our total sodium intake. That’s why even if you don’t salt your food, you’re probably still getting too much sodium.

Any meaningful strategy to reduce the collective amount of sodium that Americans eat must involve the efforts of food manufacturers, food processors, and restaurant industries. There are some foods on the market with less sodium, and a number of companies have committed to reducing the sodium in their products. I would love to see the total amount of sodium in the entire food supply gradually decrease over time. That would make it easier to stick to eating the recommended levels of sodium for heart health. There’s evidence that when sodium is decreased gradually over time, our taste buds won’t even notice.

In honor of World Heart Day, leave a comment below to tell us what changes you would like to see in your environment to make it healthier for your heart.