February is American Heart Month, and as a leading community-based organization dedicated to improving the nation’s health, the YMCA of Greenville is offering the following tips from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to help families in the Upstate reduce the amount of sodium in their diet. Having too much sodium in the diet causes high blood pressure, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and can lead to heart disease and stroke. Most of the sodium comes from salt in food.
Here are some ways to lower your sodium intake.
- Think fresh: Most of the sodium Americans eat is found in processed foods. Eat highly processed foods less often and in smaller portions — especially cheesy foods, such as pizza; cured meats, such as bacon, sausage, hot dogs, and deli/luncheon meats; as well as ready-to-eat foods, like canned chili, ravioli, and soups. Fresh foods are generally lower in sodium.
- Enjoy home-prepared foods: Cook more often at home—where you are in control of what’s in your food. Preparing your own foods allows you to limit the amount of salt in them.
- Fill up on veggies and fruits—they are naturally low in sodium: Eat plenty of vegetables and fruits—fresh or frozen. Eat a vegetable or fruit at every meal.
- Adjust your taste buds: Cut back on salt little by little—and pay attention to the natural tastes of various foods. Your taste for salt may lessen over time. Additionally, keep salt off the kitchen counter and the dinner table and substitute spices, herbs, garlic, vinegar or lemon juice to season foods.
- Boost your potassium intake: Choosing foods with potassium may help to lower your blood pressure. Potassium is found in vegetables and fruits, such as potatoes, beet greens, tomato juice and sauce, sweet potatoes, beans (white, lima, kidney), and bananas. Other sources of potassium include yogurt, clams, halibut, orange juice, and milk.
More On Lowering Blood Pressure
If you're looking to lower your blood pressure, the Y has a Blood Pressure Monitoring program that can help you track and find ways to lower your blood pressure. The Blood Pressure Monitoring Program is offered at all YMCA of Greenville locations. Find out more or sign up for the program online.