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Hold the salt - become aware and learn how to decrease sodium
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by Alicia Kroat, RD, LDN, Jennifer Fleming, MS, RD, and Penny Kris-Etherton, PhD, RD

The Institute of Medicine of the National Academies recently released the report Sodium Intake in Populations: Assessment of Evidence which concluded that reducing sodium intake reduces blood pressure and the risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke. Even though there is evidence suggesting that sodium intakes that are too low could pose health problems, the issue remains that sodium intake in the U.S. is too high (around 3,400 mg./day) and needs to be reduced.

One of the first steps in controlling your sodium intake is awareness. You need to know the major sources of sodium in your diet. The American Heart Association has launched a campaign called The Salty Six to increase consumer awareness about the major sources of sodium in Americans' diet. The Salty Six are:

  • Bread and rolls
  • Cold cuts and cured meats
  • Pizza
  • Poultry
  • Soup
  • Sandwiches

For more information on what you can do to lower sodium from these foods, visit the American Heart Association's Nutrition Center. There are plenty of good tips to help decrease salt in your diet.

Another very good resource for tips about controlling sodium in your diet is a report from the Harvard School of Public Health and the Culinary Institute of America, Tasting Success with Cutting Salt. It provides numerous strategies that are easily implemented to reduce sodium in your diet.

The food industry is making strides in decreasing sodium in foods, but sodium is literally everywhere in the diet.  Nonetheless, a key strategy is to always read the Nutrition Facts on the labels of the products you purchase and choose the lower sodium option. Doing this, in conjunction with following the advice offered by the American Heart Association, Harvard School of Public Health and Culinary Institute of America, will provide the tools you need to hold the salt in your diet and, in turn, decrease your sodium intake and your blood pressure.

The vegetable and fruit recipes for this month are salsa recipes. Salsa can help us meet the goal of working more fruits and vegetables into a healthful and delicious diet. In addition, salsa can be used to add flavor to a main dish while cutting back on salt.

Vegetable Recipe of the Month: Black Bean Salsa

Fruit Recipe of the Month: Mango Salsa


photo credit: © Jorge Royan /


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