Yesterday the American Heart Association (@American_Heart) hosted a Twitter chat with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (on behalf of the Million Hearts Initiative, @MillionHeartsUS), and Everyday Health (@EverydayHealth). I’m pleased to report that the chat reached more than 930,000 accounts! Many thanks to our experts for their participation in the chat: Dr. Linda Van Horn from the American Heart Association; Dr. Jared Bunch, Dr. William Abraham, and Johannah Sakimura from Everyday Health; and Janelle Gunn from the CDC Division of Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention.
Using the hashtag #SodiumChat we discussed how sodium affects heart health, how to be more aware of how much sodium we’re eating, how to reduce sodium in our diets, and how to use less salt and cook healthier meals at home.
Here some of the chat's highlights:
Sodium and Heart Health
- Too much salt can damage blood vessels over time, paving the way for high blood pressure.
- Blood pressure rises with age, so even if you don’t have high blood pressure now, reducing sodium intake can help maintain normal blood pressure as you get older.
- One in three U.S. adults has high blood pressure, and 90 percent of American adults are expected to get high blood pressure over their lifetimes. In the U.S., high blood pressure is the leading risk factor of women’s deaths and the second leading risk factor for men’s death.
How Much Sodium Are We Eating?
- According to an American Heart Association survey, 97 percent of U.S. adults underestimate or can’t estimate how much sodium they eat each day.
- More than 90 percent of Americans eat more sodium than is recommended for a healthy diet.
- Even without picking up the salt shaker, most of us eat too much sodium because 75 percent of the sodium we eat comes from processed, prepackaged, and restaurant foods.
Reducing Sodium in our Diets
- Sodium varies widely, even across similar types of foods - compare labels of similar products and choose the one with the lowest amount of sodium.
- The taste for sodium is a learned behavior - the less you eat it the less you crave it!
- Eat fruits and vegetables more often; most are naturally low in sodium.
Using Less Salt to Cook Healthier Meals
- Pump up the flavor by using herbs, spices, flavored vinegars, and citrus juice and zests (think lemon, lime, and orange). Grow fresh herbs on your desk or windowsill.
- Try olive oil + balsamic vinegar or lemon juice for a tasty salt-free salad dressing.
- Rinse and drain canned vegetables and beans to remove around 40 percent of the sodium.
Did you participate in this week’s Twitter chat? What was a key takeaway for you, or something new that you learned?