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Over 77 percent of the salt in our diet comes from processed and prepared foods. The average person consumes more than 3,400 mg of sodium in their daily diet when our bodies only require 180-500 mg. Because processed and prepared foods are already high in sodium, it is likely that we would get more than the 2,400 mg of sodium recommended by the American Heart Assoication (AHA).

Why is it important? 
Dietary sodium is associated with elevated blood pressure and hypertension, risks for cardiovascular events such as heart attacks and strokes. The American Medical Association estimates that reducing the amount of salt in processed foods by half could save 150,000 lives in the United States each year. The AHA recommended that the daily value for sodium be lowered to 1,500 mg by 2020. This would provide manufacturers time to reformulate products and identify acceptable salt substitutes. It will also allow consumers to adapt their taste sensitivities to lower sodium content in foods.

What can we do to control our sodium in our diet?
Here are five simple tips:
1. Eat fresh, unprocessed foods such as fruits and vegetables, which are naturally low in sodium.

2. Drain and rinse canned foods to reduce the amount of sodium you consume.

3. Go easy on condiments like soy sauce, mustard and ketchup which are high in sodium. Instead, use spices, herbs and citrus to add and boost flavor.

4. Portion control – Remember, the bigger the meal, the more sodium you’re also eating.

5. Read nutrition labels and compare before you purchase. Be aware of high sodium in many processed foods such as the following:

Smoked salmon (2.5 oz) = 1428 mg
Turkey, luncheon meat (75 g) = 900 mg
Baked beans (¾ cup) = 800 mg
Coffee shop raisin bran muffin (1 muffin) = 790 mg
Spaghetti Sauce (½ cup) = 635 mg
100% whole wheat bagel (1 bagel) = 540 mg
Vegetable drink (1 cup) = 529 mg
Cottage cheese (½ cup) = 485 mg
Whole wheat English muffin (1 muffin) = 420 mg
Beef hot dog (1 hot dog) = 412 mg
Sharp Cheddar Cheese (3 oz) = 547 mg

These simple five tips will lead you to take control of your sodium intake. Making these small changes slowly will bring benefits to your health!

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