It’s almost automatic. You sit down to a meal and the first thing you do is reach for the salt shaker. While salt is an essential part of your diet, too much is not a good thing – especially when it comes to your heart. Your body needs a careful balance of salt and water to operate efficiently.
Too much salt is bad for your heart
According to the American Heart Association (AHA), too much salt in your system can cause your body to retain water, putting an extra burden on your heart and blood vessels. This extra stress can cause high blood pressure, putting you at increased risk for a heart attack or stroke.
Most people eat too much salt without even knowing it. While most Americans consume more than 3,400 mg of sodium each day, the AHA recommends no more than 2,300 mgs per day – 1,500 mgs per day is ideal. If you have problems with your heart, kidneys or other organs, your physician may ask you to eliminate ALL sodium from your diet.
Finding hidden salt in your food
You may think that because you don’t add salt to your food, you aren’t eating much. Unfortunately, salt is an ingredient in many, many prepared foods. You will need to carefully read food labels to look for hidden salt.
These guidelines from the American Heart Association can help you reduce the amount of salt you consume each day to decrease your risk for heart attack or stroke.
Avoid foods containing these compounds:
Salt (sodium chloride or NaCl)
Monosodium glutamate (MSG)
Baking soda and baking powder
Any ingredient with “sodium” or “Na”
Avoid foods containing large amounts of hidden sodium, including:
Cheese and buttermilk
Salted snacks, nuts and seeds
Frozen dinners and snack foods
Condiments (ketchup, mustard, mayonnaise)
Pickles and olives
Seasoned salts, including onion, garlic and celery salt
Sauces including soy, barbeque, steak and Worcestershire
SmartHeathToday is a service of St. Elizabeth Healthcare. To learn more about heart health and the simple steps you can take to get to a healthier lifestyle, click here or call (859) 301-9355 to register for Take Time for Your Heart, a program offered by St. Elizabeth Healthcare.