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The average American consumes a whopping 3,400 milligrams of salt a day, which is more than twice the amount recommended by cardiologists.

Processed foods are responsible for 75% of the excessive sodium consumed by Americans.

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Have you picked up that saltshaker lately? If so, put it back down because you are most likely already getting WAY too much salt in your diet.

Salt is a critical element because it helps to keep the proper balance of fluids in our bodies as well as to help with nerve and muscle function.

But too much leads to high blood pressure, and over time can boost the risk of heart disease, stroke, and kidney disease. Canadian researchers discovered that people who consume a lot of salt and don't exercise much might even have poorer brain function!

So how much salt should you have every day? Current guidelines recommend less than 2,300 milligrams of sodium a day. However, for people over the age of 50, African Americans or anybody with high blood pressure, diabetes or kidney disease, you should have less than 1,500 milligrams, and in fact, that's what we as cardiologists recommend.

But the average American gets a whopping 3,400 milligrams a day! More than twice our recommendations.

So where are we getting all this from? It's not so much from the saltshaker as the type of foods we eat. Seventy five percent of the excessive sodium we consume comes from processed foods like breads, canned soups, cold cuts, tomato sauce, and condiments like ketchup.

So what's the secret? Stay away from prepared and processed foods and opt for freshly prepared foods instead. Eliminate salt from recipes and get rid of the saltshaker on your table. Instead use herbs, spices and citrus juice to spice up your food.

And don't think that using sea salt is better for you. It may taste better, but it has the same amount of sodium.

A little salt goes a long way. For CardioSmart TV, I'm Dr. Randy Martin.


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