Traveling with HLD


Original Image by David Goehring via Flickr
Original Image by David Goehring via Flickr

By:Nikki Nies

In today’s world, we’re surrounded by terms such as ‘good fats’ and multisyllable concepts, such as ‘atherosclerosis.’ Yet, for the average American these terms just bring more confusion to the table than help shed light on how to solve the issues at hand. How can those words be applied to daily life? By breaking down what those definitions mean is the first, best step towards understanding how one can travel with hyperlipidemia (HLD) on the go. HLD may sound terrifying, but it’s just the technical term for too many “lipids” or fats in the blood.  HLD is the elevation of cholesterol and/or triglycerides, making it a risk factor for developing atherosclerosis (“hardening of arteries) and heart disease.

While primary hyperlipidemia emerges due to familial history, secondary HLD can develop due to increased dietary intake, medical conditions (i.e. lupus, kidney disease, alcoholism, obesity, diabetics or hypothyroidism) and/or medications. In other words, with modifiable changes added to one’s lifestyle, secondary HLD can be reduced and/or eliminated altogether.

In regards to one’s heart health, there are three major lipoproteins. Low density lipoproteins (LDL) are considered “bad cholesterol.” It’s recommended cholesterol be <200 mg/dL, LDL:<130 mg/dL and HDL be >60 mg/dL. To keep cholesterol levels at optimal levels, it’s recommended to implement a low fat, cholesterol lifestyle, restricting total fat intake to 30% of daily calories, saturated fat to 7% and dietary cholesterol to 300 mg/day.  However, when you’re on the go, it can be hard to discern how much fat is eaten in an entire day. Therefore, identifying  ‘good fats’ and which menu items would be better in the long run can help make traveling more enjoyable and healthier.

Suggestions for how to travel with HLD:

  • Make every effort to make half of grains whole grains, opt for low fat dairy products, fruits and vegetables and poultry, fish and nuts, while cutting back on sugary foods and beverages and red meat
  • Add in ‘healthy fats’ that contain monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats
    • This means swapping out tropical oils (i.e. coconut for liquid) and eating fish and nuts instead of red meat
  • Be aware that foods high in saturated fatcan be equally high in calories
    • Majority of high saturated fat foods derive from animal sources (i.e. beef, lamb, pork, lard, butter, cheese and/or dairy products made from whole or reduced fat milk)
    • Again, limit plant based oils that contain high amounts of saturated fat, even though cholesterol free (i.e. palm kernel oil, coconut oil and/or palm oil)
  • Increase soluble fiber consumed, which can help decrease cholesterol levels by as much as 10%
    Original Image by s58y via Flickr
    Original Image by s58y via Flickr
    • Common sources: oats, barley, nuts, legumes and fruits and vegetables
  • Opt for boneless,skinless cuts of meat instead of fried, breaded or battered (i.e. skinless boneless chicken breast)
    • Trim fat from meat
  • Limiting alcohol can help reduce triglyceride levels, as alcohol consumption can raise triglycerides by 5-10 mg/dL
  • In increasing increments, daily regular activity can help lower LDL, while increasing HDL
    • Even a 30 minute brisk walk can do wonders in reducing risk
    • Walk at an intensity that you’re breathing hard, but can still carry a conversation
    • Build up to target heart rate gradually, which is 50-70% of maximum heart rate
  • Devote a certain amount of time each day to get the recommended 10,000 steps in

The FDA has recently declared trans fat as no longer generally recognized as safe, giving food companies until 2018 to remove trans fat from foods altogether.   This ban will take us one step closer to food companies providing fresher ingredients and allow consumers to choose healthier, heart healthy options. While on the go, what hacks have helped you the most?

Sources:  http://www.nmihi.com/h/hyperlipidemia.htm

http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/Cholesterol/AboutCholesterol/Hyperlipidemia_UCM_434965_Article.jsp

Factoring in Fasting


By: Nikki Nies

Religious fasting does not discriminate amongst religions. Off the top of my head, I know several denominations that fast regularly, while the religious premise differs. The term fasting can take on many meanings, but when someone says they’re fasting, it equates to abstaining from a something. Fasting can be in the form of complete abstinence of food and drink until sundown, TV, screen time, added sugar, sleep, sex or coffee to obtain and maintain spiritual growth.

I’m not here to pass judgement on anyone’s customs or beliefs, but to point out some aspects of fasting that should be considered. For example, someone with diabetes should probably consult a physician prior to a food fast. Perhaps, there’s another type of fast that can help with spiritual growth.

Other considerations that should be included are: ReligiousFasting

  • Fasting is not meant to punish our flesh, but to focus on those things above
  • Schedule a physical exam to confirm you’re “fit” to fast
  • If you’re on medications, make sure to notify physician about fasting to limit potential counter indications
  • Should be done during a set time and have an end date
  • Should not be used as a means of dieting, but for religious purposes
  • It can be easier to fast by thinking of this practice as a sacrificial time
  • Similar to starting a new exercise regime, you want to ease into fasting. Perhaps, you fast from one meal or fast for one day, no need to stretch yourself too thin the first time by fasting from food for an entire week!
  • Prior to abstaining from whatever you choose, may be easier to ease into the fast by decreasing intake or use of fasted items the days prior to the fast. This may mean eating smaller meals or decreasing TV time days before so the fast is easier to acclimate to.
  • May be helpful to wean off caffeine and sugar before the fast to ease initial hunger or discomfort in the initial stages of fast

During a period of fasting, one’s safety has to remain at the forefront of every decision. In addition to diabetics, those that are physically too thin or emaciated; suffering from weakness or anemia; prone to anorexia or bulimia; with tumors, bleeding ulcers, blood or heart diseases and/or cancer; have chronic issues with kidneys, lungs, heart or liver and/or pregnant women or those that are nursing may consider opting out of a fast.

The Bible refers to two types of fasts, the “absolute” and the “supernatural absolute.” These are total fasts-no food (solid or liquid) and no water

I tried to keep this post general as to not offend or pigeon hole any one’s practices, but to give some food for thought. Fasting encourages humility, greater fellowship and connection to one’s religious group, acquiring patience, can help restore one’s religious beliefs, frees oppression and encourages a lifestyle of reflection and honor.

Photo Credit:Vocation Network
Sources: http://www.webmd.com/diet/is_fasting_healthy

http://www.cru.org/train-and-grow/devotional-life/personal-guide-to-fasting.html

http://www.nutritionj.com/content/9/1/57

http://www.allaboutgod.com/christian-fasting.htm

It’s an Egg-cellent Idea!


93935ddc76ee03c515d43e550bd86e02By: Nikki Nies

The topic of breakfast being the most important meal of the day has been driven into the ground quite nicely.  In addition, it’s a well known fact Santa Clause lives at the North Pole. Yet, the best breakfast options and how to make them are still up for discussion.  It’s not a coincidence that when impending storms are on hand people run to the grocery store for milk, bread and eggs.  With that said, 9/10 homes have eggs on hand in their fridge, but can be hesitant to use due to the controversy its affect on cholesterol levels and inconsistent recommendations of egg intake.

While the yolks of eggs contain the cholesterol, that doesn’t mean you have to shy away from eggs.  In moderation, which means no more than seven eggs per week, having eggs can be advantageous and without concern of increased risk of heart disease*.  Furthermore, in comparison to sodium, trans fat and saturated fat found in the accompaniments of eggs, sausage, ham, hash browns and the oil used to deep fry the foods, the cholesterol content found in chicken eggs is minimal. Also, using cholesterol free eggs or egg whites, which doesn’t contain the yolk part of the egg is recommended.

It’s unfortunate eggs receive such a bad wrap! If one’s mindful of the quantity of eggs consumed, more positive attention can be directed to eggs beneficial nutrient content

So, whether you’re already at the recommended seven eggs a day, there’s no harm in mixing up how you make your eggs! While I’m a sunny side up kind of gal, I vow to try a different use of eggs!

Fun Ways to Eat Eggs:

Original Image by Jodimichelle via Flickr
Original Image by Jodimichelle via Flickr
  • Omelettes, frittatas and quiches: Great way to get your daily recommended intake of vegetables,fruits and healthy oils
  • Hard Boiled: keeping a few hard boiled eggs on hand at all times is a great snack to take on the go; additionally can help cook eggs in advance in case of concerns of consumption prior to expiration date
  • Eggs Benedict
  • Mayo free egg salad. Can be eaten between two slices of bread, English muffin or as is!
  • Breakfast, lunch and/or dinner burrito: By adding eggs in a burrito filled with lean turkey, tomatoes and cheese, you’ll have your family asking for more! Also,make sure to add a spoonful of guacamole for extra flavor and texture!
  • Poached: by cooking in only water, it’s one of the healthiest ways to make eggs. You can’t beat the presentation either!
  • Deviled: many people put their own spin on deviled eggs.  Mix up the traditional recipe with curry powder, chopped celery and mayo!
  • Steamed (Chawan Mush): much easier than one would think, especially in clean up!
  • Egg Soup
  • Eggnog: doesn’t have to be designated to only December! Swap out the whip cream for a dash of cinnamon or nutmeg
  • Rolled Omelet (Tamagoyaki): A traditional Japanese way of frying eggs
  • Tea Eggs: A traditional Chinese snack, soak hard boiled eggs in a mixture of soy sauce and tea

What egg-cellent ways do you make eggs? What ways do you plan to incorporate eggs into your meals?

*Seven eggs may be too much for those with diabetes, with 186 mg of cholesterol per one large egg, this may significantly increase risk of heart disease.  It’s recommended that those with diabetes, heart disease and/or high cholesterol, cholesterol intake should not exceed 200 mg per day.  To translate, that means no more than 4-6 eggs per week!

Photo Credit: Pinterest 

Sources: http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/high-blood-cholesterol/expert-answers/cholesterol/faq-20058468

http://www.eggnutritioncenter.org/health-professionals/patientclient-education/

http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/eggs/

Should I Stop Eating Eggs to Control Cholesterol? (Diet Myth 4)

http://www.shape.com/healthy-eating/cooking-ideas/20-quick-and-easy-ways-cook-eggs

http://www.rd.com/slideshows/leftover-egg-yolks-clever-uses/

http://www.webmd.com/diet/features/good-eggs-for-nutrition-theyre-hard-to-beat

http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/11/14/ask-well-how-many-eggs-can-i-eat/?_r=0

http://www.healthline.com/health-slideshow/eggs-and-cholesterol

Vegetables THEN Fruits?!


urlBy: Nikki Nies

Regular consumption of fruits and vegetables are a ubiquitous aspect of health eating recommendations! While fruits are a great contributor of natural sugar, fiber and micronutrients, it’s less likely that criticism will derive from the amount of vegetables consumed.  The term fruits and vegetables kind of rolls of one’s tongue, but what message does that label send? By stating fruits before vegetables in the healthy recommendation, it hints that fruits are more important than vegetables to consume.

For many, it’s much easier to get their daily recommended intakes of fruit at 2-3 servings than  to eat 5-7 servings of vegetables.  However, with many folks barely getting 2-3 servings of vegetables, perhaps, our strategy for health promotion needs to change. Would it be more effective for the health industry to promote regular consumption of vegetables and fruits, not fruits and vegetables.

Vegetables can help one feel fuller longer on less calories, as they are high in water and fiber content. Quality vegetables also help ward of heart disease and stroke, control blood pressure, guard against cataracts and macular degeneration.

While we all know adequate intake of vegetables are necessary for optimal growth, development and maintenance, promotion of vegetables have not received enough attention and emphasis.  Therefore, I propose the consumption of vegetables THEN fruits! What’s your take? Do you agree?

Photo Credit:Raw Edibles

Sources:http://www.in.gov/isdh/20096.htm

http://www.fruitsandveggiesmorematters.org/

http://www.med.umich.edu/umim/food-pyramid/fruits_and_vegetables.htm

http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/vegetables-full-story/

Snack’s Bad Reputation


Original Image by jeffreyw via Flickr
Original Image by jeffreyw via Flickr

By: Nikki Nies

It’s become more common and socially acceptable to deviate from the mainstream three meals of debates.  There are even debates on whether one should eat five “snacks” throughout the day instead of over sized portions of the common three meals.  While the debaters figure it out for us, I’m going to zero in on snacking today.  You know there’s a concept of “bad” snacking, right? I hope I’m not introducing a foreign concept today.

This blog post came about as I was at school the other day, passing the vending machine. For those that don’t know, I carry food with me everywhere I go. I’m not talking about a carrot, but full on meals. I like to defend my load of food as being prepared and boy has those meals helped me get through my current dietetic internship and master’s program. I digress. Walking past the vending machine, I asked myself, what if God forbid I forgot to back food with me and had to resort to vending machine food? I went through the vending machine options and I really couldn’t find any foods that I saw “worth” the cost. The healthiest snack might have been pretzels, yet how long would that sustain me? Not very long!

With that said. if you’re still with me, I don’t recommend or endorse vending machines.  Those prcocessed treats may have to be used in the dire need of emergencies, but not for day to day energy needs! Please don’t resort to those types of foods as many are filled with empty calories, full of sugar, sodium and fat! Who needs that?!

Original Image by Zdenko Zivkovic via Flickr
Original Image by Zdenko Zivkovic via Flickr

Bad snacking can become a vicious cycle of overeating oversized portions, with many Americans easily eating 600 calories from snacks alone.  As you know, too much unhealthy foods can lead to inflammation, oxidative stress, elevated triglyceride and cholesterol levels, which can directly impact one’s weight and development of heart disease.

Continuous eating also can contribute to the development of dental caries.  With increased exposure to food, the enamel has more opportunities to produce damaging acids. One should be espeically careful with sticky foods or those that leave particles behind (i.e. dried fruit, granola and/or crackers). If you’re not sure about the foods you’re eating, when in doubt, use the travel toothbrush you have handy!

Be honest, do those processed leave you feeling ready to tackle the next task?  I doubt it! Snacks on the go are a great way to incorporate more fruits and vegetables into your day! Yes, keeping healthier snacks on hand does require some planning, but investing in your health is a facet of our lives we should all aspire to do.

Sources: http://healthyeating.sfgate.com/bad-effects-snacking-3832.html

http://www.webmd.com/food-recipes/features/best-and-worst-snacks

http://www.today.com/health/why-snacking-night-bad-you-1C8505702

http://www.everydayhealth.com/diet-nutrition/meal-planning/healthy-snacking-benefits.aspx

http://www.eufic.org/article/en/expid/review-eating-between-meals-health/

Low Cholesterol Diet


By: Nikki Niesshutterstock_57921664

While it’s been pounded into our heads the notion of “good” vs. “bad” fats, we shouldn’t overlook such labels as they’re for valid measure.  Yes, fats can be used as a type of energy source for the body, but it’s the primary source of the energy and like any subject matter, too much is harmful.  In regards to our bodies, too much fat has a direct correlation with one’s risk for heart disease and/or stroke. Old news, right?

Fat intake’s contribution to cardiovascular disease(s) may be old news, but why does our society struggle with that news? peppers-betaPerhaps, you need a fresh thought on the concepts.  Not keen on the guidelines for a low cholesterol diet? Limit cholesterol, duh! Yet, there’s more to it than that.  Actually, there’s two tiers of the cholesterol diet, which was created by the National Cholesterol education Program (NCeP).  The two low cholesterol guidelines continue to emphasize: low sodium, decreased total fat and saturated fat, decreased dietary cholesterol, increased fiber and complex carbs and decreased energy intake to obtain and/or maintain a healthy body weight.

I’m not a fan of the word “diet”, but that’s how dietary guidelines are phrased.  Therefore, Step 1 is composed of dietary changes to reduce cholesterol levels for those over the age of 2.  Step 2 of the cholesterol diet consists of more stringent limitations and is more appropriate for those with a current and/or past heart attack, stroke, high cholesterol or evidence of atherosclerosis–clog in arteries.

Photo Credit:Disease Proof and Women’s Fitness UK

Sources: http://www.gatewayhealth.com/images/uploads/general/36_-_Low_Cholesterol_Diet.pdf

Guide to Vitamins


vitamin-chart-final

Source: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/08/14/vitamins-in-food-infographic_n_5678662.html?utm_hp_ref=food&ir=Food

Undercover Nikki


By: Nikki NiesDIETITIAN vs NUTRITIONIST

Recently, I attended a smoothie night at my local library.  I was looking forward to possibly getting additional ideas of what to add to my smoothies.  I quickly realized that my role as a relaxed taste taker turned into an undercover nutrition student.   I want to explain that my intention in going to the event was to enjoy myself, but once a few inaccurate statements occurred, I couldn’t help, but put my detective cap on.

My intention isn’t to slam this “board certified health expert” as she called herself, but to bring attention to the inaccuracies she discussed and how you can tune into false health information.  For example, she stated

  •  The only type of “super food” one should add to smoothies are dulse seeds.  When in fact, superfoods are foods that have been found to stave off chronic diseases (i.e. heart disease, diabetes, cancer and/or cholesterol), provide more variety and color in one’s diet
  • Several times some one would ask a question and she would deflect by answering “that’s a whole other topic.”  For example, she had listed that smoothies are rich in magnesium, yet she couldn’t explain the “how.”
  • Referred to USDA’s dietary guidelines as represented in MyPyramid.  In actuality, as of 2010 MyPlate is used to represent dietary guidelines.
  • I personally asked her where she does her research and what kinds of websites she would direct us to if we wanted to do further reading on healthy eating.  She replied that she uses a list of websites, but she didn’t know any website names off the top of her head.
  • She would rather opt for cleanses than to take prescription.  To a certain point, I understand the desire to treat and/or prevent illness naturally, but she swears by natural remedies with no discussion of medications.

Yes, I’m biased that Registered Dietitians (RDs) are the premiere food and nutrition expert as that’s what my career and credentials will reflect soon.  However, until my exposure to a nutritionist’s way of thinking and explanation, I hadn’t seen first the extreme differences in a RD and a nutritionist.  While some may argue there isn’t much difference between RD vs. nutritionist, the skill set, expertise and knowledge base is miles different.

I hope the above examples I provided for you gives a clearer picture of skeptical information.  Additionally, I hope you don’t encounter such information in the future.  Yet, no matter where you are, having your “detective” glasses on, discerning the information provided, what’s the evidence behind certain statements and does the information sound logical can go a long way in regards to keeping one sane and healthy.

Sources: http://michelle-livedontdiet.com/blog/2014/3/15/dietitian-vs-nutritionist

Diabetic Complications


diabetescomplicationsBy: Nikki Nies

Care for diabetes is a long term treatment lifestyle.  When left untreated, it can lead to serious complications that can leave devastating results. 

Taking care of yourself and monitoring changes in your body and your environment is critical for optimal care.  By eating a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low fat dairy products, lean meats and limiting sodium content, you’re more than half way there in beating the odds of diabetic complications!

Complication

Description

Tips for Better Care

Eyes

  • Diabetics are 40% more likely to have glaucoma than those without diabetes—risk increases with age
  • Vision suffers due to retina and nerve damage over time
  • Cataracts: Diabetics are 60% more likely to develop cataracts than nondiabetics; cataracts blocks light, making lens “cloudy”
  • Retinopathy: all disorders of retina caused by diabetes; 2 types: proliferative and nonproliferative
  • Factors influencing retinopathy development: genes, how long one’s had DM; blood sugar and blood pressure levels
 

  • Wear sunglasses more often
  • Use glare control lenses in glasses
  • Keep blood sugars closer to normal

Gastroparesis

  • Delayed gastric (stomach) emptying
  • If vagus nerve, which controls the muscles of stomach and intestines do not work properlyàmovement of food stops or slows
  • Symptoms: lack of appetite, gastroesophageal reflux, spasms of stomach wall, erratic blood sugar levels, weight loss, abdominal bleeding, early satiety, heartburn, etc.

 Monitor blood sugars

Hyperosmolar Hyperglycemic Nonketotic Syndrome(HHNS)

  • Can occur in Type 1 or Type 2 diabetics
  • Usually due to an infection or illness
  • Blood glucose levels increase, yet one’s body tries to get rid of excess sugar by passing in through urine. Urine becomes dark and one may become thirsty.
  • Severe dehydration can lead to coma, seizures or death
  • Symptoms: excessive thirst, n/v, weakness or fatigue, fruity scented breath, confusion, shortness of breath, frequent urinating, abdominal pain
 

  • Drink liquids even when not thirsty
  • Control blood glucose levels
  • Check sugars regularly
  • Know target range for blood sugars
  • Adjust insulin dosages as needed
  • Check ketone levels

Hypertension

  • Nearly 2/3 of diabetics have high blood pressure
  • With high blood pressure, one’s heart has to work harder, which increases one’s risk for heart disease and/or stroke
 

  • Opt for whole grain cereals and grains
  • Read nutrition fact labels—opt for foods with less than 400 mg of sodium per serving
  • If needed, quit smoking
  • Limit alcohol  
  • Replace salt in cooking with herbs and spices

Feet

  • Most often in occurrence with neuropathy
  • Can lead to tingling, weakness, pain or stinging in feet
  • Can lead to loss of feeling in foot—unknowingly injuring foot
  • Feet problems may be due to poor blood flow or changes in shape of feet and/or toes
  • Can cause changes in the skin of feet—may become very dry and start to peel and crack
  • Calluses , foot ulcers, amputations and/or poor circulation can occur as well
 

  • After showering, dry feet and seal in remaining moisture with petroleum jelly or unscented hand cream
  • Do not place oils or creams between toes
  • To limit dry skin, limit soaking of feet
  • Let a health care provider cut off calluses
  • Increase amount of exercise if there’s poor circulation
  • Avoid smoking as it can impact small blood vessels and decrease blood flow to feet

Diabetic Ketoacidosis (DKA)

  • Dangerously   high ketone levels or acids in the blood
  • More rare in those with Type 2 Diabetes
  • Ketones appear in urine when there is not enough insulinàcan poison body
 Eat small, frequent meals

Kidney Disease—Nephropathy

  • High blood sugars make it hard for kidneys to filter out blood
  • After years of exertion, kidney may start to leak and protein may start to be present in urine
 

  • Control blood pressure and blood sugars
  • Consume less high sodium foods
  • Avoid alcohol and tobacco
  • Regular physical exercise
  • Lose weight  
  • Low protein diet

Nerve Damage—Neuropathy

  • About ½ of all diabetics have some type of neuropathy
  • More common for those who have had diabetes for years
  • Types: peripheral,
  • Peripheral neuropathy: may experience tingling, pain or increased sensitivity, numbness or weakness, muscles and bone
 

  • Keep blood sugars on target
  • Manage pain
  • Protect feet
  • Medications to reduce burning and tingling

Skin

  • Skin conditions can often be early signs of diabetes—diabetics often have dry skin and are less able to fend off bacteria
  • If caught early, may be easily be treated
  • Inflamed tissues are often times hot, painful, red and swollen
  • Most common organism: Staphylococcus bacteria
  • i.e. bacterial infections, fungal infections, itching, diabetic dermopathy, necrobiosis lipoidica, diabetic blisters, eruptive xanthomatosis and/or diabeticorum
  • Use talcum powder in places with skin to skin touch
  • If skin’s dry, limit bubble baths
  • Avoid very hot showers or baths
  • Limit moisturized in between toes
  • Use mild shampoos
  • Avoid feminine hygiene sprays
  • See a dermatologist
  • During cold, dry months, bathe less if possible
  • Treat cuts right away with antibiotic cream
  • Check feet daily for sores and cuts

Stroke

  • A diabetic has a 1.5 times higher risk of having a stroke
 

  • Lower blood glucose, blood pressure and cholesterol on target with physical exercise, medicine and healthy eating
  • Quit smoking 

You’ve probably noticed that most, if not all, of these complications can be controlled with blood sugar levels.  By taking a proactive approach to treating you diabetes, you could live a more worry free life!

Sources: http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs312/en/

http://www.webmd.com/diabetes/risks-complications-uncontrolled-diabetes

http://www.diabetes.org/living-with-diabetes/complications/

https://www.health.ny.gov/diseases/conditions/diabetes/problems_caused_by_diabetes.htm

http://healthy-ojas.com/diabetes/diabetes-complications.html

The Salt Review


By: Nikki Nies

Depending on living environment and/or accent, nouns be referred to as different things.  For instance, you won’t find the word “pop” on a menu on the East Coast, but in the MidWest, “pop’s” the standard name for soda.  Get it?  While these regional words are equally accepted and used for sodium bicarbonate, such exchange of words are not always accurate.

Salt and sodium are used interchangeably.  However, salt and sodium don’t have the same meaning.  Salt is the combination of sodium + chloride, with sodium deemed the unhealthy part of salt.  1 gram of sodium is equal to 2.5 grams of salt.  On average, people are consuming 9 grams of salt a day.

It’s important to follow these parameters as too much sodium can lead to hypertension and increase one’s risk for stroke and/or heart disease.  The salt shaker on your table isn’t the issue at hand, but 80% of sodium is from the pre packaged,prepared, restaurant processed foods that are packed with sodium rich preservatives.

Recommendation: One should have no more than 2300 mg a day of sodium/6 grams of salt.  If you’re of African American descent, 51 years or older, have high blood pressure, diabetes or chronic kidney disease, you should limit to 1500 mg per day.  Yet, high salt intake doesn’t increase one’s risk for heart disease, but sodium does!

To be more mindful of the amount of sodium in foods, choose:

  • Food with less than 50 mg sodium per serving is very low in sodium
  • Entrees with no more than 480 mg sodium per serving   
  • Opt for fresh or frozen fruits and vegetables instead of canned
  • Look for “no salt added” or “low sodium” products
  • Eat in one more night a week.  Peruse the American Heart Association‘s website for heart healthy recipes and ideas
  • Limit intake of sodium rich foods–soy sauce, pickles, salad dressing, ketchup, cheese, canned meats, frozen meals (i.e. pizza, stir fry, TV dinners), bread, cold cuts, bacon, hot dogs, salami and sausage

Foods that contain more than 250 mg of sodium per serving are considered high in sodium.

Salt Grain Size Recommended Use Fun Fact
Sea Salt Small and large Cooking and seasoning Comes from evaporated sea water; it’s common for minerals to be left behind in sea salt, which gives it extra flavor and its off white color
Table Salt Very small For seasoning, baking and in salt shakers All mineralsare removed from table saltChemicals are added in so so the grains don’t stick together
Kosher Salt Large Cooking and Seasoning Salt isn’t actually “kosher”, meaning it doesn’t conform to Jewish food laws, it’s used to make meat kosher

Now that you can differentiate salt and sodium, you’re already on your way to lowering your risk for blood pressure, heart attack and stroke!

Sources:http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/GettingHealthy/NutritionCenter/HealthyEating/Sea-Salt-Vs-Table-Salt_UCM_430992_Article.jsp http://www.food.gov.uk/scotland/scotnut/healthycatering/healthycatering2/healthycatering06/healthycateringqa09#.U7rIRZRdVIE

http://www.mass.gov/eohhs/gov/departments/dph/programs/community-health/heart-disease-stroke/sodiumsalt.html http://www.food.gov.uk/scotland/scotnut/healthycatering/healthycatering2/healthycatering06/healthycateringqa09#.U7rIRZRdVIE

https://www.cardiosmart.org/News-and-Events/2013/07/Sodium-Levels-Remain-High-in-Popular-Foods