Sodium is one of the main elements in salt. It is added to many foods to enhance the flavor. Too much sodium is linked to high blood pressure.
Eating a low-salt diet is an important way to take care of your heart. Most people eat about 3,400 mg of sodium a day. This is about twice as much as the American Heart Association recommends. Most healthy people should have no more than 2,400 mg of salt a day. People over 51, and those who have high blood pressure, should limit sodium to 1,500 mg a day or less.
To get down to a healthy level, learn how to trim the excess salt from your diet.
Processed foods make dinner prep easy. But they account for 75% of the sodium in the American diet. This includes:
A healthy level of sodium is 140 mg or less per serving. If you use prepared foods, limit sodium by:
Also, use small amounts of condiments like ketchup, mustard, and soy sauce. Even the low-salt versions are often high in sodium.
Fruits and vegetables are a great source of flavor and nutrition.
Explore cooking with salt substitutes.
Read the labels on spice mixes. Some have added salt.
To add a little heat and spice, try:
Herbs and spices provide a mix of flavors. If you aren't sure what spices to use, do a taste test. Mix a small pinch of a spice or spice mix into a lump of low-fat cream cheese. Let it sit for an hour or more, then try it and see if you like it.
Try these flavors to liven up your meals without salt.
Herbs and spices on vegetables:
Herbs and spices on meat:
Source: Flavor That Food, National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute
You will notice a difference when you first start cooking without salt. Fortunately, your sense of taste will change. After a period of adjustment, most people stop missing salt and start enjoying the other flavors of food.
Chicken and Spanish Rice
* To reduce sodium, use one 4-oz can of low-sodium tomato sauce and one 4-oz can of regular tomato sauce.
Source: Your Guide to Lowering Your Blood Pressure with DASH, U.S. Health and Human Services.
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