COLUMN: Shake down on sodium

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By Theresa Howard

 Excessive sodium in the diet is linked with high blood pressure or hypertension. Hypertension can result in heart disease, kidney failure or stroke. Salt is the major source of sodium in the diet. Sodium and salt are mistakenly thought to be the same ingredient. Sodium is a mineral while salt is a naturally-occurring chemical compound made up of 40 percent sodium and 60 percent chloride.

Shop wiser and bring home less sodium. Many foods in the grocery store are very high in sodium, especially the highly processed food choices. Here are common foods that are high in sodium, read their food labels to know for sure.

Canned foods such as soups, canned tomatoes, pasta sauce, canned veggies and pasta dishes. Choose canned foods that have no salt added or use fresh items instead.

Deli meat and cheese: Use fresh chicken or fish, canned tuna, nut butter without added salt.

Frozen dinners: Choose frozen veggies and make your own meals with fresh meats and plain rice or pasta.

Boxed pasta and rice mixes: Use plain rice or pasta with seasonings that you control instead.

Grain items like bread, crackers, and packaged cereals are high in salt: Choose lower salt versions.

Pickled foods, dressings and condiments are high in sodium: Choose fresh veggies and vinegar.

Cook without salt: Choose salt-free herbs and seasonings to flavor your foods such as dried or fresh herbs, garlic or ginger, flavored vinegars and salt-free condiments.

Shake Down on Sodium – Salt Overload Class

Most Americans take in twice the amount of sodium they need in a day. To learn more about salt and sodium, come to the Shake Down on Sodium class at the Extension Office 10:30 a.m. March 1. No registration needed, open to everyone and sponsored by the County Homemaker organization.