American Heart Month Tips: How to Reduce Your Sodium Intake

Fruit and vegetables are the key to healthy eating habits and heart health.

February is American Heart Month, and as a leading community-based organization dedicated to improving the nation’s health, the YMCA of Greater Brandywine offers the following tips from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to help families in Chester County reduce the amount of sodium in their diet. Reducing the amount of sodium in your diet can lead to a healthier heart.

  1. Think fresh: Most of the sodium Americans eat is found in processed foods. Eat highly-processed foods less often and in smaller portions—especially cheesy foods, such as pizza; cured meats such as bacon, sausage, hot dogs and deli/luncheon meats; as well as ready-to-eat foods, like canned chili, ravioli and soups. Fresh foods are generally lower in sodium.
  2. Enjoy home-prepared foods: Cook more often at home, where you are in control of what’s in your food. Preparing your own foods allows you to limit the amount of salt in them.
  3. Fill up on veggies and fruits—they are naturally low in sodium: Eat plenty of vegetables and fruits, either fresh or frozen. Eat a vegetable or fruit at every meal.
  4. Adjust your taste buds: Cut back on salt little by little and pay attention to the natural tastes of various foods. Your taste for salt may lessen over time. Additionally, keep salt off the kitchen counter and the dinner table and substitute spices, herbs, garlic, vinegar or lemon juice to season foods.
  5. Boost your potassium intake: Choose foods with potassium, which may help to lower your blood pressure. Potassium is found in vegetables and fruits, such as potatoes, beet greens, tomato juice and sauce, sweet potatoes, beans (white, lima, kidney) and bananas. Other sources of potassium include yogurt, clams, halibut, orange juice and milk.

For more information on how your family can live a healthy, active life, visit your local YMCA of Greater Brandywine branch.