According to a study released in 2010 by Stanford University, a reduction in sodium in a person's diet of less than 10 percent could help many Americans avoid heart attacks and fatal strokes.
This April, the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention's Cardiovascular Health Program began a campaign to raise awareness of foods that are high in sodium and the importance of monitoring sodium consumption.
According to a study by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the average American adult consumes about 3,300 milligrams of sodium each day. That is at least 1,000 milligrams more than people should be eating. Most sodium is found in packaged, processed and restaurant foods.
"Oftentimes, foods high in sodium do not taste salty," said Dr. Sheila Pinette, director of the Maine CDC. "If we can help Maine people better understand what's in their food and help them make healthier choices, we can reduce the number of heart attacks and strokes across the state."
The foods that are the biggest sources of sodium may be surprising. According to the U.S. CDC, bread and rolls are the top sources of sodium in the American diet, followed by cold cuts, pizza, poultry and soups.
There are many ways to eat less salt and sodium. Check food labels before you buy and choose foods with less than 400 mgs of sodium per serving.
Here are a few other ways to cut back:
Fill up on fruits and veggies. They taste great and are low in sodium.
Use spices, herbs or lemon to flavor your food instead of salt.
Look for "unsalted," "low-sodium," or "no salt added" options for deli meats, cheeses, soups and snacks.
Limit consumption of pre-made sauces and condiments.
Maine CDC has developed fact sheets and cards that can be used to monitor sodium and has produced public service announcements that will air on radio.
More information about how to reduce the risks of heart attack and stroke is available online at mainehearthealth.org.
The Maine CDC Cardiovascular Health Program's goal is to reduce death, disability and health care costs due to heart disease and stroke in Maine.
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