October 24, 2020

The Silent Killer

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By: Dr. Brandi Propas. Brandi Propas is the newest addition to The International Medical Group. She is a registered dietician and her services are a welcome complement to the clinic.

The International Medical Group is a multi-disciplinary medical practice that offers professional and personalised care.

Brandi Propas is the newest addition to The International Medical Group. She is a registered dietician and her services are a welcome complement to the clinic.

Hypertension, or high blood pressure, affects an estimated 970 million people worldwide with numbers expected to increase to 1.56 billion by 2025. Hypertension is also called the Silent Killer as it is often asymptomatic, meaning people don’t feel any symptoms so can go a long time before being diagnosed with the disease. Hypertension is the single most important risk factor for stroke and also increases the risk for diabetes, heart disease and kidney failure.  One of the contributing factors to the increasing rates of hypertension worldwide is the increased consumption of sodium.  The average person consumes 3400 mg of sodium per day. The recommended intake is 1500mg a day so most of us are getting triple the amount that we need.

Sodium is found in all types of salt. This includes Kosher salt, sea salt, smoked salt, and table salt so one type of salt is NOT healthier than the other. To give you an idea, 1 teaspoon of salt has 2325mg of sodium so a pinch here and a pinch there of salt on your food adds up very quickly. It’s not just table salt that you need to be concerned about. Over 75% of sodium we consume comes from processed foods which include: pizza, cheese, deli slices, soups and sauces. Packaged and ready-to-eat foods and fast food are often high in sodium as are many restaurant meals. And even though breads, cereal and baked goods don’t taste salty they too are often high in sodium. As a general rule, if you want to decrease the amount of sodium in your diet stick to unprocessed food and try to cook at home rather than eating out. While it’s not always possible to cook everything from scratch, starting with one or two meals a week can make a big difference.

Here are some more tips to help reduce the sodium in your diet.

At the grocery store:

Read the labels of food packages. Use the % DV to help guide your choices. Less than 5% DV of sodium is a small amount and a good choise, over %15 DV is too high and should be avoided. Packaged foods should never contain more than 360mg per serving. Also look for phrases like “low sodium”, “sodium free” to choose products.

Canned food is also high in sodium so buy fresh or frozen veggies as much as possible. If using canned beans, make sure to rinse them well. Soups are also very high in sodium so make sure to buy soups that say “reduced sodium”.

At home:

Try to make meals from scratch once or twice a week. If this is not possible, experiment with making your own sauces and salad dressings. Cook rice and pasta without adding salt. Also experiment with fresh herbs to flavor food instead of reaching for the salt shaker.

At Restaurants:

Ask for sauces, dressings and gravy on the side and use only small amounts or try using lemon or pepper instead of adding salt to flavor your food. Also go easy on condiments such as ketchup, pickles and cheese when order hamburgers and sandwiches. Choosing baked chicken instead of chicken wings or fingers will also help to reduce the amount of sodium. Instead of ordering French fries, order a baked potato or steamed veggies. These changes will also help to reduce the amount of fat in the meal. Check the nutrition information of menu items before you order and choose foods with less sodium. Many fast food restaurants have this information posted or in a pamphlet.

Here are some easy ways to cut back on Sodium:

Try… Instead of…
Fresh fruit and vegetables, unsalted popcorn or unsalted nuts for a snack Chips, salted pretzels or other salty snacks
Rice cooked in water or juice Rice cooked in salty broth
Yogurt Cottage cheese
Sandwiches made with roasted meat or poultry, eggs or natural peanut butter Sandwiches made with canned or deli meat
Fresh or dried herbs and spices, garlic, ginger, onion, vinegar and lemon and lime juice Salt, kosher salt, sea salt, fleur de sel, gourmet salt, smoked salt, celery salt, garlic salt or onion salt
Oil, unsalted margarine or unsalted butter Salted margarine or salted butte

Experiment with Herbs Instead of Salt

Herb

Use it with

Paprika Seafood, vegetables, egg and potato salad
Basil Tomatoes and pasta
Cumin Soups, stews and sauces
Dill Fish, potatoes and eggs
Oregano Pasta, soups and salads
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