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Reduce sodium by empowering your taste

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Did you know that September is National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month? To help raise awareness with families across the country, the American Heart Association created the EmpowerMEnt Challenge. Throughout the month of September, families are being empowered to take control of their health by pursuing a different goal every week.

This week of the EmpowerMEnt Challenge is about reducing sodium by empowering your taste. As you’ve heard me say before, most people eat more than double the amount of sodium their bodies need – which increases chances of high blood pressure, stroke, heart disease and other problems. Kids who eat high sodium diets are 40% more likely to develop high blood pressure, and this is even worse among children who are overweight. But because taste preferences for salty foods may be set early in life, parents can mold their kids’ taste buds by controlling the salt they eat from the get-go.

This video clip about sodium and kids aired on heart.org and a number of NBC stations this week:

Our taste buds can adapt to eating less salt. Research suggests that when people eat lower-sodium foods over time, their taste preferences change so they prefer those foods and they find that the foods they used to enjoy are too salty. When salt is cut gradually, sometimes people don’t even notice! And when less salt is used, you can appreciate the true flavor of food. For example, try roasting a sweet potato or butternut squash and enjoy the flavor that develops as it cooks and caramelizes.

Click here to find resources for the EmpowerMEnt Challenge, including handouts and recipes. The sodium materials are in Week 3 – Empower Your Taste. Then share your family’s progress on the new Life is Why Facebook group.

By the end of the challenge, we hope that you feel healthier and happier! Tell us how you feel as a result of living healthier.