Welcome to my blog! My name is Isabel, and I'm currently a student at Tufts University's Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy, attaining a Masters of Science in Nutrition Communications. I'm also an avid health-nut who is allergic to absolutely everything- wheat, soy, corn, dairy, and eggs, and who loves to work out! I am currently in school learning how to better communicate to the public why and how they can become healthier and happier. So hopefully you can learn something too! Anything that you want to see on my blog or any questions you have please leave me questions and I will do my best to answer! I'm just getting going, but I soon hope to post recipes, fun fitness tips, and other exciting nutrition and fitness tips! enjoy!

Monday, January 31, 2011

Hold the Salt!

Did you know that 150,000 excess Americans die of over consumption of salt per year? That because most Americans consume 3,400 mg of sodium per day on average, reported the recent report issued by the Institute of Medicine (IOM). This is part of the reason the New Dietary Guidlines for Americans have been changed to include recommendations for lower salt consumption.
Most of the time there is a lot more salt in your food than you think (before you add any table salt- which most people do)! Because of the high content of salt in most people's diets and the resultant heightened cardiovascular disease-most notably hypertension, the USDA has made the recommended intake be no higher than 2,300 mg a day- this equals 1 teaspoon of salt per day (1 MacDonald's Quarter Pounder with cheese has big mac has 1,330 mg- thats half your daily amount, a plain bagel has 561 mg), and for certain groups (people over 51, people with African American backgrounds, people with kidney disease, and people with diabetes- this equals 1/2 of the population!) no more than 1,500 mg/day. BUT! everyone benefits from reducing sodium intakes of this level.
Specifically the Institute of Medicines Report
I think this is great! Learning to cook with herbs and spices is a great way to cut down on salt intake while boosting flavor of what you cook, and while at first you may notice a difference, over time you wont even know that you have reduced sodium. A lot of people simply have the habit of sitting down at the table and putting salt on their food for the sake of it, and this is probably one of the reasons we consume so much salt (in addition to all the pre-prepared and pre-packaged food we as a nation are eating on the whole).
Here are some easy ways to reduce salt intake:
1. Substitute spices for salt in cooking (like pepper, oregano, basil, cilantro, chile pepper).
2. Eat out a few less times per week.
3. Use Olive oil instead of salted butter (if you're using unsalted butter it's about the same! But Olive oil is still the all-around healthier choice!).
4. Use fewer pre-packaged foods.
5. Check your frozen vegetables (some of them have 200 mg of salt per serving! Think of where else you can get this 200 mg, I'm sure you can find somewhere!
6. Switch water for juices and other sweetened beverages (though they don't have a lot of sodium, the amounts do add up!)

Overall, I think that lowering sodium is an easy and feasible way to cut down on chronic disease and to make us all healthier! It will be really important that restaurants and fast food chains take part in this  because then the effects will be more widespread and in order for this to work we need to all take part in this together!

And Remember! Try out some spices instead of putting salt on your food!

-Healthy Gal

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