Lake County General Health District visited the Mentor Library last week to offer some tips on how to make your diet heart healthier.
Their biggest suggestion: Cut down on the salt.
Salt plays a role in high blood pressure. People only need one teaspoon of salt a day, but most of us eat a lot more than that.
Consequently, LCGHD offered 10 tips (via the USDA) for cutting back our salt intake.
1. Think fresh
Fresh foods are generally lower in sodium. So try to cut back on the processed foods, especially cure meats, cheesy foods (like pizza) and read-to-eat meals.
2. Enjoy home-prepared foods
The same logic applies here as in Tip 1. If you're cooking at home with fresh ingredients, you're eating less salt.
3. Fill up on veggies and fruits
Fruits and vegetables, both frozen and fresh, are naturally low in sodium.
4. Choose the low-sodium version of a food
Craving meat but afraid of the salt content of most deli or luncheon meats? Eat fresh chicken, beef or seafood, instead. Choose unsalted nuts and seeds over their salted varieties.
5. Adjust your taste buds
Unsalted or low-sodium foods may taste unusual to you at first, but you'll get used to them as your taste buds adjusts to your new diet.
6. Skip the salt
This may seem so obvious as to not even merit mention; but, just to be safe, I'll say it. Don't season your food with a lot of salt. Use healthier options like garlic, herbs, red and black pepper, vinegar or lemon juice to season your supper.
7. Read the label
When in doubt, check the Nutrition Facts label. Always know what you're eating.
8. Ask for low-sodium foods when you eat out
Restaurants may prepare lower-sodium versions of their foods, sauces and salad dressings at your request. But you'll never know unless you ask.
9. Pay attention to condiments
Soy sauce, ketchup, pickles, olives, salad dressings and seasoning packets are high in sodium. Use the low-sodium version of soy sauce and try cucumbers instead of pickles.
10. Eat more potassium
Potassium lowers blood pressure, so eat a lot of potassium-rich foods like potatoes, beet greens, tomato juice, beans and bananas.
The LCGHD will return to the Mentor Public Library on May 7 to talk about diet trends and picking a diet that's right for you. You can register for the free talk here.
Click here for more tips on how to eat and live healthy from the Lake County General Health District.