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Health and Wellness

Cutting out the salt…it’s easier said than done

A major cause of high blood pressure is too much salt in our diet.
The average American woman consumes 3,000 milligrams of sodium daily, the average man about 4,000. Recommended levels for most people are 1,500.
Simply cutting our average salt intake by 1,200 mg a day would save thousands of lives every year, said Kirsten Bibbins Domingo, M.D., Ph.D., of the University of California: ”But it’s always striking to me how hard it is for my patients to cut salt.”
Just don’t blame the salt shaker, said Mark Pecker, M.D., of the Division of Hypertension at Weill Cornell Medical College: ”Most of the salt we eat comes from foods that are processed, including baked goods, dairy products, candies, condiments and soups.”
Food manufacturers use sodium as a preservative and flavor-enhancer. And who knows how much salt is in the restaurant food that we eat so much more of these days?
A typical chain restaurant entree contains more than 1,500 mg of sodium, according to the Nutrition Action Health Letter. And some popular dishes are truly over the top. For example: spaghetti and meatballs at Olive Garden (2,180 mg), grilled cheese and tomato deep dish pizza at Uno, Chicago (4,920), and the ”bloomin’ onion” at Outback Steakhouse (5,510).

What you can do to help

Read the labels on processed foods and choose lower-salt options.
Ask the chef to cook your entree without salt or check the food-chain website for lower-sodium options.
Don’t rely on blood pressure medication to ”fix” the high-salt problem. Make it a health issue that you’re aware of and working on yourself.

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