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sodium

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Set Down That Salt Shaker

CDC reports one in 9 children (8-17 years) has high blood pressure.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says about 90% of U.S. school children consume too much sodium each day. It may come as a surprise that only 10 common foods contribute 40% of the sodium eaten by children. Check out the great resources and infographics to help your family be sodium wise. Remember, healthy eating starts in the home.

PositiveTip: Make healthy eating a "team sport" for the whole family so each member can benefit.

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Sodium and Your Arteries

Less salt may keep your arteries more flexible

Arteries tend to stiffen after age 30 and can increase risk of heart attack, stroke and memory loss because they can’t dilate (widen) when increased blood volume is necessary. Australian researchers studied 25 overweight or obese subjects with normal blood pressure and found those on a diet with lower sodium levels (2600 mg/day) had arteries that could dilate more than those on a diet with normal sodium levels (3600 mg/day).

PositiveTip: Choose to pass over the salt at mealtime and select low-sodium foods.

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Salt Reduction Makes an Impact in the U.K.

While still too high, the English are benefitting from lower salt consumption.

Between 2003 and 2011 stroke deaths in the U.K. decreased 42% (P<0.001) and ischemic heart disease fell by 40% (P<0.001). During the same time salt intake decreased by 1.4 g/day (P<0.01) measured by 24-hour urinary sodium. The findings of this 8-year study appear to support a key role for lower salt intake. Despite this progress, the 2011 average salt intake in England (8.1 g/day) is still 35% higher than the recommended 6 g/day.

PositiveTip: Make intentional efforts to eat less salty foods!

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Hospital Meals Exceed Sodium Recommendations

A majority of hospital-served meals exceed the maximum level of sodium.

Canadian researchers have discovered that hospital food may not be as healthy as it should be--at least in sodium. They sampled standard hospital menus in which patients did not pick their own choices, and found that 100% exceeded the adequate daily intake of 1500 mg of sodium per day. Even worse, 86% of the meals exceeded the maximum recommended level of 2300 mg. This suggests that hospitals are serving prepared foods rather than preparing them from natural ingredients.

PositiveTip: Encourage your local hospital to serve meals lower in sodium.

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Too Much Sodium in Common Foods

Ninety percent of Americans consume more sodium than recommended.

The majority of sodium we eat comes from processed foods and those prepared in restaurants. More than 40% comes from 10 types of food: breads, cold cuts and cured meats, pizza, poultry, soups, sandwiches, cheese, pasta dishes (not including macaroni and cheese), mixed meat dishes and salty snacks. The amount of sodium varies from one brand to another of the same food. The average American eats 3300 mg of sodium per day, while the recommended is 2300 mg. Six out of ten adults should limit it to 1500 mg a day.

PositiveTip: Reduce you sodium intake and lower your risk of stroke and heart disease.

Up with Potassium, Down with Sodium

Sodium chloride and potassium chloride are both simple salts but they have profoundly different effects in the body. In the blood stream, sodium is high (135 mg/dl) and potassium is low (4 mg/dl) but the opposite is true inside cells where potassium is high and sodium is low.

Both sodium and potassium are diet essentials, but in the United States we get far more sodium than we need and barely enough potassium.This causes a significant increase in deaths from heart disease.

The U.S. Government just published a study in the Archives of Internal Medicine examining the ratio of sodium to potassium in the diet and the impact on several diseases and death, in more than 12,000 people who were followed for 15 years. During this time there were 2270 deaths.

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Blood Pressure and those Sugary Drinks

Sugar-laden beverages may raise blood pressure.

Sugar-sweetened sodas and fruit juice may increase blood pressure according to British researchers who looked at 2,696 U.S. and U.K. participants. For each additional sugary beverage per day systolic blood pressure rose 1.6 mmHg and diastolic by 0.8 mmHg (p<0.001 for both). Perhaps these "empty calories" are displacing calories from the nutrient dense foods like fruits, vegetables and whole grains. More research is needed.

PositiveTip: None of us really need sugar-sweetened beverages for health. Drink plain water instead of that calorie dense beverage, and eat another serving of delicious fruit.

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The War on Salt Heats Up

The majority of today's salt intake comes from restaurant and processed foods.

The Institute of Medicine (IOM) recently called on the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to regulate the amount of sodium added to foods.

A new IOM report has concluded that public health and education programs have failed to cut American's salt intake, and therefore the FDA should incrementally cut down the sodium content of the food supply in a way that goes unnoticed by most consumers.

PositiveTip: Start adjusting your taste sensors for salt by cutting back on processed foods and passing up the salt shaker! You might be surprised at how quickly you adjust.

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Hold the Salt to Lower Health Care Costs!

Modest reductions in dietary salt could save 92,000 lives per year and save $24 billion!

Dietary salt intake in the U.S. in on the rise, in spite of more and more evidence linking salt intake to hypertension and cardiovascular disease. Reducing salt intake by a modest 3 grams (1/2 teaspoon) per day per person is projected to annually reduce new cases of coronary heart disease by up to 120,000, stroke by up to 66,000, and heart attacks by up to 99,000. This in turn could save up to $24 billion each year in health care costs.

PositiveTip: The majority of dietary salt in the U.S. comes from processed foods. Stop subtracting years from your life by cutting back on these foods.

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Sodium Restriction Helps Resistant Hypertension

Got resistant hypertension? Maybe you should shun the salt shaker!

Resistant hypertension--elevated high blood pressure despite the use of three or more antihypetensive medications--is fairly common, and frustrating to both patient and physician. A small, randomized crossover trial of 12 such patents has demonstrated the effectiveness of a low-sodium diet. The low sodium diet had only 1/2 teaspoon of salt, and the high sodium diet contained 7.5 teaspoons of salt. Systolic and diastolic pressures were significantly lowered by 22.7 mmHg and 9.1 mmHG, respectively, while on the low-sodium diet.