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Risks of High Sodium Diet

Mahaska Health Partnership Explains Risks of High Sodium Diet

Sodium, or salt, is found in most foods that you eat, but Mahaska Health Partnership wants you to know that too much sodium in your diet can cause high blood pressure and other serious health problems.

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) around 90% of Americans consume more sodium than recommended for a healthy diet. Most of the sodium in our diet comes from processed foods and food served in restaurants. Too much sodium can cause high blood pressure which often leads to heart disease and stroke. As a result, over 800,000 people die each year from these or other vascular disease.

“Sodium is already a part of processed foods and cannot be removed, but you should do your best to select lower sodium foods when possible,” said MHP Family Nurse Practitioner Chris Beaird. “The more fresh food you prepare yourself, the better control you have over your sodium intake.”

The CDC recommends limiting sodium to less than 2,300 mg a day. People who are over 50, are of African American decent, have high blood pressure, diabetes or chronic kidney disease should limit their sodium to 1,500 mg a day. The top sources of sodium include bread, cured meats, frozen prepared meals, pizza, poultry and other foods.

“If you are trying to limit the amount of sodium in your diet, you really need to closely review food labels and monitor your diet carefully,” explained Beaird. “Just because you cut back on using the salt shaker at mealtimes, doesn’t necessarily mean you’re lowering your sodium intake.”

Beaird went on to explain that while the words “salt” and sodium are used interchangeably, some salts contain no sodium at all. “Manufacturers add sodium to their products as a preservative. Restaurants add sodium to improve flavor,” said Beaird. “Another thing to be wary about is the brand of your food products. Different brands of the same food could have very different sodium levels.”

Eating a high sodium diet may not be a conscious choice, but there are things you can do to avoid getting high blood pressure or worse. Check the label on food products and choose options that are lower in sodium. Prepare more meals yourself instead of going to restaurants where sodium levels are notoriously high. Put down the saltshaker and pick up a healthier option such as a lemon wedge to flavor your food.

To learn more about how a high sodium diet may be negatively affecting your health, call 641.672.3360 to make an appointment with Family Nurse Practitioner Chris Beaird. Her hours are Monday and Tuesday from 8:30 am to 6:30 pm, Wednesday from 7:30 am to 4:30 pm and Friday from 7:30 am to 3:30 pm.