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Reduce your salt intake

Published in Weight Management, For the Health of It Author: Diane Giambruno Registered Dietitian

High blood pressure, which often leads to various forms of cardiovascular disease, has become a national epidemic. The culprit? Sodium.

I recently taught a class about sodium reduction. We discussed how important it is to read labels, and I emphasized the suggested 2400 mg sodium per day restriction. For one of the men in the class, the light bulb suddenly came on. He salted everything before he tasted it, used a lot of processed foods, and frequently ate at fast food restaurants. He proclaimed to the class: “After listening to your class, I think I eat 10,000 mg of sodium each day!” He left determined to make changes.

Your first step? Put a little DASH in your life!

DASH, or Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension, is a healthy lifestyle plan developed by the National Institutes of Health to aid in lowering blood pressure and cholesterol levels without the need for medication. 

Reach and maintain a healthy weight by:

  • Reducing sodium
  • Regular exercise
  • Smoking cessation
  • Moderation of alcohol

So, what’s the recommended daily sodium intake? The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute advises less than 2.4 grams (2,400 mg), or 1 teaspoon, of table salt a day. Speak to your health care provider for individual advice on your recommended sodium intake.

A sample of the DASH diet plan
Type of foodNumber of servings for 
1600-3100 calorie diets
Servings on a 
2000 calorie diet
Grains and grain products (include at least 3 whole grain foods each day)6-127-8
Low-fat or non-fat dairy foods2-42-3
Lean meats, fish and poultry1.5-2.52 or less
Nuts, seeds, and legumes3-6 per week4-5 per week
Fats and sweets2-4limited

High blood pressure not only increases the risk of cardiovascular disease, but is especially dangerous because there are no obvious symptoms. Stress, high sodium intake and preexisting medical conditions all play a role in high blood pressure. While the condition cannot be cured, high blood pressure can be prevented.

Are you at risk? Here are your next steps:

  • Visit your health care provider to discuss your individual health needs and help pave the way to good health.
  • Get active! Make time with friends and family both healthy and fun.
  • Put a little DASH in it. Incorporate this plan into your daily diet and stop high blood pressure dead in its tracks.