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Shake the Salt Out of Your Diet 

The American Heart Association recommends you limit your daily sodium intake to no more than 2,300 mg, with 1,500 mg as an even better goal for most people. Yet most Americans get more than what’s recommended. If you’re in this group—and you probably are—you’ll need to change your dietary habits to reach the target level.

Excess sodium raises blood pressure. It also increases the risk of having a stroke and developing heart disease.

How Sodium Sneaks onto Your Plate

Table salt is the best-known source of sodium. But it’s far from the only one. In fact, more than 75 percent of sodium typically comes from processed, prepackaged, and restaurant foods, such as pizzas, hamburgers, canned soups, deli meats, breads, and snack foods.

Be sure to check the sodium content on food labels. Also scan the ingredients list for “sodium” terms, including:

  • Monosodium glutamate (MSG)

  • Sodium benzoate

  • Sodium bicarbonate (baking soda)

  • Sodium chloride (table salt and sea salt)

  • Sodium nitrate

Sodium Solutions for a Heart-Smart Diet

These tips can help you shake an unhealthy salt habit:

  • At the supermarket, use food labels to choose lower-sodium foods.

  • In restaurants, skip the high-sodium options, such as foods that are smoked or barbecued or seasoned with soy or teriyaki sauce.

  • At home, cook with unprocessed ingredients, such as fresh fruits and veggies, whenever possible. Use spices, herbs, vinegars, or lemon juice for seasoning.

  • Consult your doctor before using salt substitutes. They compound may be harmful for people taking certain medications and those with kidney disease and other conditions.

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