Watch out for the Salty Six

A lot of the packaged food we eat is processed and made more palatable by adding a lot of salt. About 77 percent of the salt we consume is already in the prepared foods we eat—it’s not coming from our saltshakers. It is not easy to combat this salt overload, but it can be done. The outer edges of the grocery store contain fruits, vegetables, whole grains, meat and dairy—all of the fresh items that are vital to a balanced, low-sodium diet. The inner edges of the grocery store are home to the Salty Six, the six foods that can add the highest levels of sodium into our diets. Focus on eating less of these and you can reduce your sodium intake!  

1. Bread and rolls
Most bread will have 100 to 200 milligrams of sodium per slice. If you’re eating a sandwich, those numbers add up quickly. Read the label and find a whole-grain bread that has less than 200 milligrams of sodium per serving. Also consider switching to whole-grain pita pockets, whole-grain English muffins or whole-grain bagel thins, all of which have fewer than 150 milligrams of sodium. And limit how much bread you eat throughout the day. Two slices should be the maximum.

2. Cold cuts and cured meats
Just six thin slices of deli meat can add up to half of a day’s worth of recommended sodium intake. Ham is a particularly high offender, and there’s no close alternative. If you do indulge in lunch meats, find a low-sodium variety, but be sure to read the labels; even those cold cuts marketed as low-sodium may run high. One viable alternative is to substitute hummus, egg whites, veggies or low sodium tuna, as alternate sandwich options.

3. Pizza
Pizza brings together a melting pot of high-sodium ingredients: cheese, pepperoni, sausage, tomato sauce and crust. Lessen the blow by choosing an olive oil sauce instead of tomato, ask them to go light on the cheese and opt for veggie toppings instead of meat. Limit yourself to two small slices, and have a salad or steamed vegetable to round out the meal.

4. Poultry
This one can be sneaky. What looks like a natural fresh or frozen piece of chicken could actually be injected with broth or sodium solution preservatives that boost sodium content up to 200 milligrams per serving. Read the label, and if has anything other than “chicken,” look for another brand. Even fresh poultry will have some inherent sodium. When purchasing chicken, avoid any prepared or processed products, which are packed with seasonings and sodium and are often fried. Consider fresh fish to bake or grill as another low-sodium alternative.

5. Soup
Many prepared soups are a hidden bunker of salt. You can easily blow an entire day’s worth of your allotted sodium intake just by eating a single serving which often measures in at 600 to 1,000 milligrams per serving (with two servings per can). It helps to choose a lower-sodium variety, but even those can score 400-plus milligrams per cup. Homemade soups (ones made without store-bought broth or bullion) are an option, but for those people who are used to high-sodium soups, the transition may seem flavorless and bland but with time your taste buds will adjust.

6. Sandwiches
Burgers and sandwiches are another hidden trove of salt, particularly if the meal is coming from a restaurant. It’s extremely challenging to follow a low-sodium diet if you dine out, particularly if you eat at fast food spots, where a single sandwich can contain a day’s worth of sodium. One way to lower sodium content is to request the burger or sandwich grilled and not fried, without cheese and with the condiments on the side (BBQ sauce and ketchup, in particular, add sodium and sugar). A better way to go is to share a sandwich and order a fresh side, such as a salad, fruit or low fat yogurt.

Myth or Fact: Heart Health Month

There are common myths about cardiovascular medications that can give false information to people who need them. In addition to lifestyle changes to control your high blood pressure your doctor may determine that you need prescription medication. When you have high blood pressure or high cholesterol, your medication can help you regulate and lower your blood pressure.  By treating high blood pressure, you can help prevent a stroke, heart attack, heart failure, kidney failure and peripheral artery disease.

Check out these common myths about cardiovascular medications:

Myth: I feel fine, so I can stop taking my medication.

Fact: For your medication to work properly, you should always take it as prescribed. Feeling fine is a good thing, but also could indicate that the medication is working. Never stop taking medication without first talking to your healthcare provider and always remember to follow the recommendations of your healthcare team.

Myth: I eat healthy and exercise so I don’t need to or can eventually stop taking my medication.

Fact: High blood pressure or high cholesterol can be lifelong issues. Healthy eating and exercise can make a difference, but these changes may not always be enough to control high blood pressure or high cholesterol. If you need medication, taking it as prescribed can reduce your chance of having a heart attack or stroke. Remember to talk to your healthcare provider about your personal health history and what’s right for you.

MYTH: I’m taking my medication, so I can eat whatever I want.

Fact: Taking medication does not eliminate the need for a healthy lifestyle. While medication can help control your high blood pressure or high cholesterol, it’s important to eat healthy and enjoy regular physical activity as well. Consider grilling or baking instead of frying, eat fresh fruits and vegetables, and check nutrition labels to find foods with 140 mg or less of sodium. Above all, always remember to follow your healthcare provider’s advice.


Tips to reduce sodium

Most of us consume too much sodium in our diets. In fact, most of us consume nearly 50% more than the daily recommended limit. It is not hard to understand why when a large portion of the sodium consumed comes from processed and prepared foods, not just the salt shaker. Here is a breakdown of where the sodium in our diet comes from; 5% added during cooking, 6% added at the table, 77% processed or prepared foods. Excess sodium increases the risk for high blood pressure, a leading cause of heart disease and stroke.  One in three Americans adults has high blood pressure. Taking steps to reduce sodium intake can help prevent premature deaths and heart conditions.

What Can You Do? Here are some tips on reducing sodium in your diet.
1.Prepare meals at home.

2.Limit foods with more than 200mg of sodium per serving.

3.Learn to read food labels for percent Daily Value or amount of sodium in milligrams.

4.Use herbs and spices to flavor foods instead of reaching for the saltshaker.

5.Select fresh or frozen food over canned foods. If using canned goods select the lowest level of sodium and rinse before using to remove additional sodium.

6.Prepare your own meals to control the sodium content. 

7.When available, buy low-sodium, lower sodium, reduced-sodium, or no salt-added.

Heart Healthy Women

Heart disease is the No. 1 killer of women, causing 1 in 3 deaths each year. That’s approximately one woman every minute! This month we want to focus on heart disease and the ways we can prevent this deadly disease. We often think of heart disease as something only men experience, but it is a problem for women as well. Women often have risk factors for heart disease, but they don’t know it. Join us on Feb 3rd to celebrate Go Red for Women Day and wear something red to show your support for women with heart disease and stroke.
Many things can put you at risk for these problems – one’s you can control, and others that you can’t. But the key takeaway is that with the right information, education and care, heart disease in women can be treated, prevented and even ended. Studies show that healthy choices have resulted in 330 fewer women dying from heart disease per day.

Here are seven lifestyle change suggestions from the American Heart Association that you should make:

Get active. Daily physical activity increases your length and quality of life. If you get at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity each day (like brisk walking), five times per week, you can almost guarantee yourself a healthier and more satisfying life while lowering your risks for heart disease, stroke and diabetes. Check out our Walk Around Nevada program to increase and track your daily activity.

Control cholesterol. When you control your cholesterol, you are giving your arteries their best chance to remain clear of blockages. Cholesterol is a waxy substance and our bodies use it to make cell membranes and some hormones, but when you have too much bad cholesterol (LDL), it combines with white blood cells and forms plaque in your veins and arteries. These blockages lead to heart disease and stroke.

Eat Foods that can help lower cholesterol
•A variety of whole- and multi-grain products, such as bran and oats
•Fatty fishes, such as salmon, mackerel and albacore tuna
•Foods rich in antioxidants, such as fruits and vegetables
•Foods high in omega-3 fatty acids, such as avocado, flax seeds, olive oil and canola oil
•Foods rich in plant sterols, such as nuts like walnuts and almonds

Eat better. Healthy foods are the fuel our bodies use to make new cells and create the energy we need to thrive and fight diseases. If you are frequently skipping out on veggies, fruit, low-fat dairy, fiber-rich whole grains, and lean meats including fish, your body is missing the basic building blocks for a healthy life. Check out our Half My Plate mobile app to help you eat more fruits and veggies.

Manage blood pressure. High blood pressure is a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke. When your blood pressure stays within healthy ranges, you reduce the strain on your heart, arteries, and kidneys which keeps you healthier longer. High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, means the blood running through your arteries flows with too much force and puts pressure on your arteries, stretching them past their healthy limit and causing microscopic tears. Our body then kicks into injury-healing mode to repair these tears with scar tissue. But unfortunately, the scar tissue traps plaque and white blood cells which can form into blockages, blood clots, and hardened, weakened arteries. Come visit one of our Heart Healthy events this month and get your blood pressure checked for free.

Lose weight. If you have too much fat — especially if a lot of it is at your waist — you’re at higher risk for such health problems as high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol and diabetes. If you’re overweight or obese, you can reduce your risk for heart disease by successfully losing weight and keeping it off. Even losing as few as five or ten pounds can produce a dramatic blood pressure reduction. Calculate your body mass index (BMI) to help you determine if you need to lose weight.

Reduce blood sugar. Most of the food we eat is turned into glucose (or blood sugar) that our bodies use for energy. Your body makes a hormone called insulin that acts like a carrier to take your food energy into your cells. If your fasting blood sugar level is below 100, you are in the healthy range. If not, your results could indicate diabetes or pre-diabetes. Although diabetes is treatable and you can live a healthy life with this condition, even when glucose levels are under control it greatly increases the risk of heart disease and stroke. In fact, most people with diabetes die from some form of heart or blood vessel disease.
The following tips can all help reduce your blood sugar:
•Reduce consumption of simple sugars that are found in soda, candy and sugary desserts
•Get regular physical activity! Moderate intensity aerobic physical activity directly helps your body respond to insulin
•Take medications or insulin if it is prescribed for you

Stop smoking. Cigarette smokers have a higher risk of developing cardiovascular disease. If you smoke, quitting is the best thing you can do for your health. Smoking damages your entire circulatory system, and increases your risk for coronary heart disease, hardened arteries, aneurysm and blood clots. Like a line of tumbling dominoes, one risk creates another. Blood clots and hardened arteries increase your risks for heart attack, stroke and peripheral artery disease. Smoking can also reduce your good cholesterol (HDL) and your lung capacity, making it harder to get the physical activity you need for better health. Whatever it takes for you to stop smoking, it is worth it! Call our Nevada Tobacco Quit line 1-800-QUIT NOT (800) 784-8669  to get help quitting.