What you don’t know about the food you eat may be seriously harming you.

ChicagoDefender.com Contributing Writer What you don’t know about the food you eat may be seriously harming you. High amounts of sodium are lurking in many of the foods we eat and not all of them are salty. The American Heart Association reports that the sodium (salt is sodium chloride) in the average American diet is greater than 3400 mg daily. Now, if this number is not alarming to you, then you’re in the right place.    Many know that the recommended daily sodium intake is 2300 mg for people without a personal or family history of high blood pressure (BP). But did you know that the recommended daily amount of sodium for most Black people and those with high BP is 1500 mg daily? That means that the average American eats somewhere between 1100-1900 mg of sodium over the recommended daily amount. Americans don’t need half the sodium they consume—literally. Why is too much salt a problem? The answer is simple. Dr. Dave’s 1st Law of the Blood Pressure: Where salt goes, water goes If salt goes in, water follows. So, the higher your salt intake, the more water you retain, and as a result, the higher your BP can go.  Blacks have higher BP, compared to other groups. Part of the reason is because Blacks have a higher sodium-sensitivity, meaning sodium leads to more water retention and higher BP. High blood pressure (or hypertension) is a leading cause of strokes and heart attacks in the United States from which Blacks suffer disproportionately. A silent killer, hypertension is typically painless. Even the symptoms of severe hypertension are often very subtle, although some develop headaches. For example, fatigue, vague chest discomfort and vision changes can go unrecognized as a sign of high blood pressure, but may represent significant organ damage. Only your doctor can tell you if you have organ damage from high blood pressure. Lowering the sodium in your diet can lower your BP and lower your risk for heart attacks, strokes and kidney failure. Tips for lowering your dietary sodium:     * Read the nutrition labels of everything you eat.     * Avoid foods with high sodium: Foods that exceed 480 mg sodium per serving should be avoided and substituted with low-sodium or sodium-free alternatives.           o High sodium content foods:                 Soups                 Tomato sauce                 Condiments                 Canned foods                 Prepared mixes     * Terms to be familiar with:           o Sodium-free – less than 5 mg of sodium per serving           o Very low-sodium – 35 mg or less per serving           o Low-sodium – 140 mg or less per serving           o Reduced sodium – usual sodium level is decreased by 25 percent           o Unsalted, no salt added or without added salt – made without additional salt, but still        contains the natural sodium     * Limit the amount of fast food you consume: A recent study conducted in New York reported that most fast food meals have on average 1700 mg of sodium, surpassing recommendations for people with hypertension in one meal. Be informed; Master your health.  Your life depends on it. Copyright 2010 Chicago Defender Dave Montgomery, MD, PhD is senior fellow in Cardiology at Northwestern University and a Speaker, Health Coach and Blogger. http://www.davemontgomerymd.com

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