Erika Kendall, of Black Girl's Guide To Weight Loss, is joining the Sodium Blog as a Guest Blogger today.
That’s right. It’s time to send salt its walking papers, to tell salt to pack its raggedy duffel bag and go.
Each year more and more people find themselves impacted by common heart conditions like heart disease and high blood pressure, and unsure of how they got there or what to do in order to undo it. If this is you, you’re not alone. It seems that all of us either know someone with high blood pressure, or have it ourselves.
And, when you think about it, it’s easy to see why. When research highlights that the bulk of of the sodium we consume comes from processed, prepackaged, and restaurant food, and the saltiest culprits are things you’re likely to find in every kitchen in America, it’s no wonder why so many struggle with these common conditions.
What many people miss about salt and how it impacts the heart, and what doctors sometimes fail to share, is that salt impacts blood pressure.
Luckily, there are things we can do in our everyday lives to help positively impact our heart health. Here are four quick and easy tips to help you kick that salt to the curb!
Be careful when you consume the Salty Six. Breads, deli meats and cured meats, pizza, soups, sandwiches, and poultry are six foods that, when bought in the grocery store or a restaurant—as opposed to making from scratch at home—tend to have high amounts of salt. When you buy these foods at the grocery store, flip it over and check the label—how much sodium is in there?
And what about when you visit restaurants? Despite the fact that the AHA found that over 70% of patrons want restaurants to cut the salt amounts in their foods, you’ve still got to be careful there, too. Don’t be afraid to skip the food altogether and swap it for something else, or cut your portion in half — that’s right! half! And add some delicious veggies in place of the half you’ve skipped.
Speaking of labels, read them, but also do the math. It’s one thing to turn over the label and see that there’s a “safe amount” of salt in a single serving, but nowadays food manufacturers have gotten hip to our secret. They know we’re checking the labels to ensure that there isn’t too much salt (or sugar, for that matter) in our food. But, instead of lowering the amount of salt in a serving, they’re merely shrinking the serving sizes!
Alas, just because they’re shrinking the serving size doesn’t mean we’re reducing how much we eat! And, with some foods—I’m specifically thinking of things like boxes of spiced rices and breakfast cereal—we’re eating multiple servings at a time, sometimes clearing a whole package by ourselves in a couple of days.
If you know that you’re someone who eats half of an entire package or the entire thing in one sitting, it’s not enough to just glance at the label and see an “acceptable” amount. You need to do the math, and multiply to find out how much salt you’re eating in one sitting. What was once a “safe amount” can often turn into an epiphany. “So that’s why my hands swell up after I eat dinner!"
- Explore the produce aisle. One of the most valuable ways to reduce salt is to explore healthy ways to prepare veggies on your own. There’s no better resource for this than the cookbook section of your local library or bookstore. (Nope, not even the Internet is better!) Find a cookbook that shows you recipes for produce that comes from the region where it was originally grown, and you’ll find ways to taste test spices and spice blends, flavorful and healthy cooking oils, and delicious dishes that are high on flavor and, you guessed it, low on salt.
All in all, eating more fresh produce, less processed food, and being careful with the portion sizes of the processed food you do consume is an invaluable (and delicious!) way to incorporate healthier food into your life, improve your heart health, and #BreakUpWithSalt. Who wouldn’t want that?
Erika Kendall, of Black Girl's Guide To Weight Loss, is joining the Sodium Blog as a Guest Blogger today. You can connect with Erika on Twitter at @wherewomenbloom or via the Black Girl's Guide To Weight Loss Facebook page.
The views, opinions and positions expressed within these guest posts are those of the author alone and do not represent those of The American Heart Association | American Stroke Association. The accuracy, completeness and validity of any statements made within this article are not guaranteed. We accept no liability for any errors, omissions or representations. The copyright of this content belongs to the author and any liability with regards to infringement of intellectual property rights remains with them. The American Heart Association’s blog is not intended to provide medical advice or treatment. Only your healthcare provider can provide that. The American Heart Association recommends that you consult your healthcare provider regarding your personal health matters. If you think you are having a heart attack, stroke or another emergency, please call 911 immediately.