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Eat for Life - not chronic disease - by making small changes to reduce your sodium intake.

Do you plan for your future?

Maybe you have a retirement account, IRA, or you’re saving for your kid’s college fund.  You could also be training your kids to be good adults by teaching them chores, independence, and other things they’ll need to know to survive as an adult.  Maybe you are working towards an advanced degree or training to be better at your job, so that you’ll be more successful.  You could be learning new things and being creative to stretch your mind!  All of these things are wonderful ways to plan and work towards a bright future.

Do you eat like you’re planning for a bright future? 

Sometimes we don’t think about how we eat as much as we think about other future events.  We probably don’t plan to be on several medications, go to multiple doctor’s appointments each month, or need to have surgeries. 

My parents tried to be healthy – walking miles and miles, eating pretty well (my mom made whole wheat bread from scratch), not watching much TV.  But cancer still came and killed my dad.  And some things, like accidents, can’t be planned for very well. 

But you DO have some control! 

Chronic diseases are called chronic for a reason – they are persisting for a long time, or constantly recurring.  Long-lasting, lingering, continual. That means they didn’t happen overnight.  So if you’re planning for the future, plan to reduce your risk or delay the onset of chronic diseases by eating for LIFE. 

So what’s one small habit you can cultivate to eat for life?

Did you know there is a relationship between sodium intake and blood pressure?  As one goes up, so does the other.  Most Americans typically consume too much sodium, so we could stand to reduce it.  We should be eating less than 2,300 mg a day but what does that mean?

Here are ten foods we can make a little healthier AND reduce our sodium intake which can reduce our blood pressure which can reduce our risk of high blood pressure/hypertension, etc. Score!

  1. Cold cuts/cured meats - One serving of black forest ham has 580 milligrams of sodium. That’s about one quarter of what you need for the whole day!  Bacon, ham, hot dogs, sausage, lunch meats and more are high in salt but also contain sodium nitrate as a preservative, which adds more sodium.
    • Trade out the cold cuts for fresh chicken that you’ve sliced up. Or reduce how much you eat – one piece of bacon is better than 4 pieces!
  2. Cheese – Sodium in cheese varies, so check the label! Feta and blue cheese are among the saltiest, while goat cheese and ricotta are on the lower end. 
    • Substitute low-sodium cheese or again, smaller amounts of finely grated, highly flavored cheese such as sharp cheddar or Parmesan as a replacement. A side benefit of less cheese – less fat too!
  3. Breads & Rolls – Bread isn’t really too salty by itself – 1 slice contains 100-200 milligrams of sodium. But we tend to eat a lot of bread!  And it adds up. 
    • Trade your toast or bagel for a bowl of oatmeal. Instead of dinner rolls, try a serving of whole grains such as brown rice, quinoa, or barley. 
  4. Pizza – Most of your favorite pizza ingredients have a lot of salt – the crust, sauce, cheese, and even a lot of toppings!
    • Change to a homemade pizza using a whole-wheat, pre-baked crust (you could even make your own crust from scratch) with a low-sodium pizza sauce or even a no-salt-added tomato sauce. Add slivers of part-skim mozzarella or other light cheese.  Top with fresh veggies and fewer cured meats like sausage and pepperoni. 
  5. Sandwiches – Bread, cheese, and cold cuts = more ingredients with sodium.
    • Load up your sandwich with fresh veggies. Cut the cheese and add hummus or try peanut butter with sliced apple or banana.
  6. Soup – Have you checked the nutrition label on canned soups?! Some may have as much sodium as you need for the entire day! 
    • Look for low- and lower-sodium varieties. Or make your own batch of homemade soup, adding just enough salt to taste (not necessarily what the recipe says), and freeze it in individual servings. 
  7. Burritos and tacos – Like pizza and sandwiches, these popular dishes combine a number of high-salt ingredients, such as white flour tortillas (8-inch tortillas contain about 400mg of sodium), cheese, seasoned & salty beans and meat.
    • Use whole-grain corn tortillas (just 5mg of sodium) and fill with grilled chicken or a mild white fish. Choose low-sodium canned beans, and top with chopped vegetables and salsa!
  8. Savory snacks – chips, popcorn, pretzels, snack mixes, crackers – those things we love to nibble on.
    • Choose low- or reduced-sodium versions. They may be hard to find but you can make your own snack mixes with low-sodium nuts, dried fruit, and cereal.
  9. Chicken – If you purchase rotisserie or fried chicken from a grocery store or restaurant, you’re adding up to the 4 times the sodium of plain chicken prepared at home. Chicken is a popular protein, and people think it is a healthier protein too.  It can be! 
    • Bake or sauté plain chicken breasts seasoned with salt-free herb blends.
  10. Eggs and omelets – An egg contains just 62mg of sodium so why is it on the list? Like so many other foods, other ingredients and cooking methods can derail eggs and omelets!  Most fast-food egg breakfast sandwiches are made with cheese and ham on an English muffin, and omelets are often full of cheese, bacon, and ham.  Even the ones in the freezer section at the grocery store are loaded with sodium.
    • Make your own poached or hard-cooked eggs. Many grocery stores now carry hard-cooked eggs, which are even more convenient.  If you have an electric pressure cooker, these machines do a quick & easy job of cooking eggs.

Remember, the point is to change one small habit.  So what can you do this week to reduce your sodium? My family eats pizza every week.  We already use no-salt-added tomato sauce (and add some seasonings) and a homemade whole wheat crust (when we have some in the freezer!).  But we can do better about toppings and cheese.  And we can buy pizza less often!  Another area that we could improve - cold cuts!  They are easy - but with heart issues in both of our families, we should limit how often we eat cold cuts and processed meats. Let me know what small thing you can work on this week over on my Facebook page.


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