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This Month's Topic: Healthy People 2020 Heart Disease and Stroke

Goal: Improve cardiovascular health and quality of life through prevention, detection, and treatment of risk factors for heart attack and stroke; early identification and treatment of heart attacks and strokes; prevention of repeat cardiovascular events; and reduction in deaths from cardiovascular disease.

High sodium intake can increase blood pressure and the risk for heart disease and stroke, yet about 90% of American adults exceed their daily recommendation for sodium intake. This month we look at ways to reduce sodium consumption.

Most Americans Should Consume Less Sodium

Most of the sodium we consume is in the form of salt, and the vast majority of sodium we consume is in processed and restaurant foods. Your body needs a small amount of sodium to work properly, but too much sodium is bad for your health. Excess sodium can increase your blood pressure and your risk for a heart disease and stroke. Together, heart disease and stroke kill more Americans each year than any other cause.

Tips for Reducing Sodium

Things you or the person who purchases and prepares your food can do to reduce sodium:

At the Grocery Store

  • Buy fresh, frozen, or canned vegetables with no salt or sauce added.

  • Choose packaged foods labeled “low sodium,” “reduced sodium,” or “no salt added” when available.

  • Read food labels and compare the amount of sodium in different products, then choose the options with the lowest amounts of sodium.

  • When buying prepared meals, look for those with less than 600 milligrams (mg) of sodium per meal, which is the upper limit set by the Food and Drug Administration for a meal or main dish to be labeled “healthy.”

  • Check the amount of sodium per serving, and don’t forget to check the number of servings per container.

  • When possible, purchase fresh poultry, fish, pork, and lean meat, rather than cured, salted, smoked, and other processed meats. For fresh items, check to see whether saline or salt solution has been added—if so, choose another brand.

  • Ask your grocer if they have a low sodium shopping list available.

  • Ask to speak to the registered dietitian at your local grocery store to learn more about buying low sodium products. If your grocer doesn’t have a registered dietitian, ask your doctor for a referral. A registered dietitian can provide valuable guidance on reducing your family’s sodium intake and managing blood pressure.

At Home

  • When cooking, use alternatives to replace or reduce the amount of salt you use, such as garlic, citrus juice, salt-free seasonings, or spices.

  • Prepare rice, pasta, beans, and meats from their most basic forms (dry and fresh) when possible.

  • Eat more fruits and vegetables.

  • Limit sauces, mixes, and “instant” products, including flavored rice and ready-made pasta.

Dining Out

  • Ask for nutrition information before you order, and select a lower sodium meal.

  • Ask that no salt be added to your meal.

  • Order vegetables with no salt added or fruit as a side item.

  • Split a meal with a friend or family member.

  • Keep takeout and fast food to an occasional treat.


Lutheran Church Missouri Synod

Pacific Southwest District

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