Sodium: The culprit of an unhealthy heart
It’s no secret fast food and ‘junk’ foods are notorious for containing high levels of fat, calories, carbohydrates and sodium. However, according to the American Heart Association, one in three adults will develop high blood pressure, the culprit for many being a high-sodium diet. While the recommended daily salt intake is 1,500 mg, the Centers for Disease and Control reports Americans consume an average of 3,436 mg per day.
While it may seem like a dash of salt on your eggs or a piece of toast is a good way to start the day, Robert C. Candipan, M.D., Ph.D., a board-certified interventional cardiologist on the medical staff at Tempe St. Luke’s Hospital explains salt adds up quickly with these simple foods. “A slice of bread alone could have around 230 mg of sodium. That’s nearly 20 percent of the daily recommended amount,” he said.
Dr. Candipan answers a few questions about sodium consumption and how to cut back on this everyday staple.
Can too much sodium cause serious health problems? — Too much sodium will cause the body to retain fluids. The extra fluids put an added strain on the blood vessels and heart, which can eventually lead to plaque build-up and high blood pressure.
Should I remove sodium from my diet completely? — Sodium is actually an essential nutrient of the body. It is found in all human fluid including blood, sweat and tears, and controls blood pressure and blood sugar. The body cannot create sodium on its own, so removing sodium from your diet completely could lead to serious health risks. The goal should be to consume the recommended daily intake of 1,500 mg.
Where does most of the sodium in the food I consume come from? — While many of the foods we eat naturally contain sodium, including milk, grains, fish, meats, and some vegetables, the amount of sodium in these foods will not affect your daily intake. On the other hand, the majority of salt we consume comes from processed foods like breads, deli meats and cheeses, soups, pasta dishes and snack foods, to name a few.
What can I do to reduce sodium in my diet? — The easiest way to reduce your sodium intake is to remove processed foods from your diet. If a recipe calls for salt, reduce the salt in half and taste before adding more. Skip condiments, as many are packed with sodium, and flavor foods with spices like garlic, basil, oregano, thyme and pepper. Lastly, read labels while grocery shopping. Select pastas, nuts, canned foods, frozen meals, soups, snacks and cheeses that are labeled low-, no or reduced-sodium. If you happen to be dining out, request to have the chef omit added salt from your meal.
To find out if you’re one of the 82 million Americans living with high blood pressure, coronary artery disease and stroke risk, Dr. Candipan recommends scheduling a TripleView screening at Tempe St. Luke’s Hospital. This non-invasive, three-part test uses ultrasound technology to detect early issues and provide a clear picture of one’s cardiovascular health. The entire process takes an hour and is specially priced at $99 for a limited time. To schedule a TripleView, call Tempe St. Luke’s at 1-877-351-WELL (9355).
This information is provided by Tempe St. Luke’s Hospital as general information only and is not intended to replace the advice of a physician.