WAC Magazine

February 2013

Issue link: http://www.wacmagazine.com/i/105435

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Rachel Johnson, a professor of nutrition and medicine at the University of Vermont and a spokesperson for the American Heart Association, suggests starting by familiarizing yourself with the food labels and nutrition facts for the foods you eat. Track your sodium consumption for two days. (Note: One teaspoon of table salt equals about 2,300 milligrams of sodium.) "[It] will be surprising to many people," Johnson says. After you know how much you're currently eating, you'll be able to use the Salty Six to lower your sodium intake. Here's an outline of how to proceed. Week 1 Start by tackling your consumption of breads and rolls as well as cold cuts and cured meats. For example, one piece of bread can have as much as 230 milligrams of sodium while a serving of turkey cold cuts could contain as much as 1,050 milligrams of sodium. It's amazing how quickly you can exceed the recommended daily intake of 1,500 milligrams or less. When you're buying bread and prepared meat, check the labels. Look for lower-sodium items. Continue to track your sodium consumption daily. Determine how much you've shaved from your diet based on those first two days. Portion control also makes a difference. Foods eaten several times a day add up to a lot of sodium, even if each serving isn't very high. Week 2 Keep that momentum going. This week's foods to watch include pizza and poultry. If you're going to eat pizza, aim for one with less cheese and meat or lower-sodium versions of these items. Better yet, try something different and add vegetables to your plate. When cooking at home this week, use fresh skinless poultry that isn't enhanced with a sodium solution rather than fried or processed poultry. Keep your eyes on those 1,500 milligrams of sodium daily. Again, log your results and track your improvements. Week 3 As you embark on the last week of your personal sodium challenge, focus on soups and sandwiches. The two together typically make a tasty lunch, but one cup of chicken noodle or tomato soup may have up to 940 milligrams of sodium. It varies significantly by brand. If that sandwich includes meat, cheese and condiments, you might be over 1,500 milligrams before your lunch break ends. When choosing a soup, check the label and try lower-sodium varieties of your favorites. Make your sandwiches with lower-sodium meats and cheeses, and try to eliminate piling on your condiments. Be sure to track your sodium and keep your daily consumption to less than 1,500 milligrams. By the end of this week, you should start to notice a change in the way your food tastes and how you feel after you eat. You might even start to lean naturally toward lower-sodium options. The goal is to keep sodium top-of-mind and make monitoring your intake a lifelong habit. keep going As you continue challenging yourself to eliminate excess sodium from your diet, start with your grocery list. Plan meals with vegetables and fruit in mind first. Keep your eyes on the Salty Six. Often, our worst meals are those we don't plan. A quick trip to a fast-food restaurant, for example, can single-handedly ruin a day's diet. You can also look for the Heart-Check mark on products in your local grocery store and in restaurants. Products certified by the Heart-Check Food Certification Program meet nutritional criteria for heart-healthy foods and can help keep you on track. Making an effort to reduce sodium in your diet will help you feel better and live a heart-healthier life. " February marks the American Heart Association's annual Heart Month, and now is a great time to recharge your taste buds and boost your heart health." Tips FRom shAnA The majority of excess salt in the American diet comes from processed foods. For a healthy heart, cut out all processed foods and eat a whole foods-based Mediterranean diet: lots of vegetables, fruit, fish, olives, olive oil, nuts, and beans. Also, be choosy about the salt you use. Did you know that a lot of generic table salt contains aluminum? Choose sea salt over processed table salt. Better yet, go without. —WAC Nutritionist Shana Hopkins can be reached at 206.839.4782 or shopkins@wac.net. She would love to help you start eating better. The American Heart Association is actively working toward a population-wide reduction in sodium intake. For more information, visit heart.org/sodium. FEBRUARY 2013 | Washington Athletic Club Magazine | 25

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