Taking the Salt Out of the “Salty Six”

If you have high blood pressure you’re probably already taking steps to limit salt intake.  Still, over consumption of sodium is more common than getting too little salt. We are supposed to get less than 1,500mg a day, less than 1 teaspoon of table salt. Most Americans far supersede this limit. The culprit? Sodium’s in most everything you eat, and now the American Heart Association (AHA) is highlighting the top foods with excess sodium, aptly named “The Salty Six.”

Take a look at how transforming the Salty Six encourages a healthier diet in general:

  1. Bread and rolls. This tops the list because we Americans simply consume too much bread, period. A 1-ounce slice has 100 to 200 mg of sodium.
  2. Cold cuts, cured meats. Skip these altogether. The  preservatives add a criminal amount of sodium to your meal. If you must do meat, lean ham and lean pork (tenderloin) will have less salt. Drop the Canadian bacon!
  3. Pizza. It’s the perfect storm: bread, cheese, pepperoni and marinara sauce. One slice alone can make up more than half of your daily recommended intake! Go homemade with no-salt-added sauce, 100% whole wheat or other-grain-you-love dough, low-sodium cheese and leave the pepperoni at the door with the delivery.
  4. Poultry. Go skinless, lean and grilled. Watch out for grilled chicken sandwiches at popular fast food restaurants, those have 820-1330mg of sodium! That’s almost your day right there.
  5. Soup. Make your own rather than canned, those ”low-cal” soups have around 800mg! Choose a low-sodium broth and season with spices and herbs. For the main attraction, try dried beans and fresh vegetables.
  6. Sandwiches. Use the same meat alternatives as you do soup. Don’t forget about tofu and seitan! As for PB & J, try natural nut butters without added salt. To avoid going overboard on bread: open-faced sandwiches or fresh lettuce wraps.

Too much salt can decrease calcium levels in your body. So, lowering your salt consumption keeps your bones stronger. Not to mention, no one looks as good with eye bags and a puffy face, the day after a salty-food fest.

One final trick to outsmart sodium: Foods with potassium dampen sodium effects and even help relax your muscles. Dark leafy greens and white beans are just brimming with potassium—those keep you feeling and looking younger.

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