World Salt Awareness Week

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March 21–27 is World Salt Awareness Week, introduced by World Action on Salt and Health (WASH) in 2008. This observance serves as a platform for international experts in the fields of hypertension and nephrology to raise awareness about the importance of salt reduction to both the public and health professionals worldwide.

This year, the topic is “Salt and Men’s Health,” to call attention to the dangers of a high-salt diet in young men after UK research revealed they are more likely than women to die prematurely of cardiovascular disease (CVD). In fact, CVD accounts for nearly 30% more preventable deaths in men than women. Men eat more salt than women, and average a higher blood pressure─particularly at a younger age. They’re also less likely to get blood pressure checks, to take action to reduce it when it elevates, or to take blood pressure lowering drugs.

The National Academy of Sciences advises a salt intake of only 2,400 mg. daily approximately 1 teaspoon a fraction of what most Americans consume. Avoiding the salt shaker is a start, but according to the American Heart Association, up to 75% of the sodium you eat is hidden in processed/restaurant/fast foods. For example, tomato soup averages up to 1,260 mg/serving.  What to do? Fortunately, salt reduction is one of the easiest, cheapest of all interventions to reduce CVD. Here are some highly effective steps you can take, starting today:

  • Increase your intake of fresh, whole foods, which allows you to better control your sodium levels, among many other benefits.
  • Read labels. Choose products labeled as “low sodium” or “no salt added.”
  • At restaurants, ask for foods with minimal salt. Soups are typically salt-laden.
  • Encourage your local schools, work, grocer, and restaurants to offer low-sodium options.
  • Add salt-free zest with lemon juice, minced orange peel, garlic, onion, herbs and spices.
  • Season foods with sesame, cumin, basil and curry─flavor-packed salt alternatives that also incorporate powerful health benefits.

As with many aspects of wellness, simple, modest daily efforts can make a big difference. Here’s to a long, healthy, low sodium life.

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