Whether you've already been diagnosed with a cardiac condition and are managing it on a daily basis or are simply trying to maintain good heart health, carefully monitoring your diet will be key to health. Managing your sodium intake is one essential part of establishing a healthy diet.
Take a look at these tips to optimize your diet.
1. Get rid of the salt shaker
Many people wonder whether the amount of sodium in their diet is actually that bad for them. This is a reasonable question, since small amounts of sodium are necessary for your body to function properly. According to the American Heart Association, consuming 1,500 milligrams of sodium each day provides your body with enough salt to manage. (Quick fact: this is only 0.75 teaspoons!)
Taking in a great deal more than this can be extremely detrimental to your heart health. Regrettably, this is common: the AHA estimates that most people in the United States consume over 3,400 milligrams each day.
Salt appears in lots of the foods you eat daily, so do yourself a favor and trash your salt shaker altogether.
2. Eat more whole foods
Hypertension, or high blood pressure, is problematic on its own, but can be even more worrisome when paired with another form of heart disease or cardiovascular condition. According to the World Health Organization, hypertension may be brought on in part by prolonged periods of eating too much sodium.
To avoid this risk, ask your physician or cardiologist how to adapt your diet. If you aren't already, you'll want to focus on eating more natural foods, such as fresh produce and vegetables, as these are far less likely than many processed foods are to contain high levels of sodium. While this may limit your dietary options somewhat, it could help you take your heart health to the next level.
3. Avoid certain condiments and cured meats
When it comes to managing your sodium intake effectively, knowing which foods to eat is only half the battle. It's also important to know which foods have surprisingly high sodium levels so you can reduce or eliminate them from your diet.
For example, many condiments have surprisingly high sodium levels. When you purchase ketchup, mustard, and the like, look for low-sodium or heart-healthy options. Also, many packaged meats such as lunch meats and bacon are cured with sodium to add flavor and help keep them fresh longer. If possible, opt for fresh cuts of unprocessed meat to limit your sodium intake in this regard.