90% of Americans consume more sodium than recommended. Here are some ways to help remove excess sodium from your diet.
Nine out of 10 Americans still consume more sodium than the currently recommended limits, according to a 2016 report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Excess sodium consumption was found to be a particular problem among men, 98 percent of whom consumed too much sodium compared with 80 percent of women. Among people at higher risk for heart disease and stroke (including people over age 50 and those with high blood pressure, diabetes, or kidney disease), three out of four consumed more than the recommended limit of 2,300 milligrams (equivalent to one teaspoon) of sodium per day. Most of the sodium Americans consume comes from packaged, processed foods and restaurant meals.
On average, an American adult consumes approximately 3,500 milligrams (mg) of sodium per day, which is equivalent to about 1½ teaspoons of salt. The 2015–2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans advises that we consume less than 2,300 mg sodium per day. Individuals with prehypertension or hypertension, the Dietary Guidelines states, would reap even more benefits by reducing their sodium intake to 1,500 mg per day. It can be challenging to reduce sodium to recommended limits, but every step you take toward decreasing your intake can help in lowering blood pressure.
To trim sodium from your diet, you’ll need to do more than hide the salt shaker—only about 11 percent of our sodium intake comes from salt added during cooking or at the table. Packaged foods and restaurant foods account for the bulk of the sodium in our diets—almost 80 percent. While reading nutrition labels can help you scale back on sodium in packaged foods, it’s more difficult to determine amount of salt in restaurant meals. Chain restaurants’ websites typically list sodium amounts in their offerings; it’s worth browsing the Internet for that information.
Restrain Your “Salt Tooth”
Exposure to salt—even at an early age—may influence your preference for salty foods. Infants exposed to foods containing salt prior to six months of age had a greater preference for a salt solution, compared to infants who did not have early exposure to salty foods, according to a 2012 study of 61 infants (American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.) This preference for salty taste persisted into preschool, where children in the early salt exposure group as infants were more likely to lick salt from the surface of foods.
Experimental studies from the 1980s show that young children required 6 to 15 taste exposures before accepting a new food or flavor. And recent research shows that adults, too, require repeat exposures to new tastes—in this case, low-sodium versions of familiar foods—before they accept them. Researchers examined the acceptance of low-salt soup among 37 adults (Food Quality and Preference, May 2012.) Participants were given either no-added-salt soup or the same soup with 280 milligrams of sodium per serving. After almost daily exposure for eight days, the no-added-salt group showed increased liking for the soup by the third exposure. In a June 2014 study published in the same journal, researchers studied the acceptance of low-sodium tomato juice among 83 subjects over 16 weeks. Results showed a shift in preference for lower salt in tomato juice after repeat exposure, concluding that salt preference can be altered by exposure alone, even in study subjects who consumed a high-sodium diet.
Since preference for less salty foods may literally be an acquired taste, strategies for lowering salt in your diet should include repeat exposures to low-salt food items. While you’re at it, try these 10 tips for slashing sodium:
Nothing seems more like fall than roasted pumpkin seeds—and, lucky for us, they have a whole host of health benefits. Read on for pumpkin seed nutrition, why pumpkin seeds are so healthy and how to roast the best pumpkin seeds.
Pumpkin seeds are a seasonal favorite we get excited to make every fall. Ring in the season by filling your house with the smells of a snack you can feel good about: roasted pumpkin seeds. There are some pretty impressive health benefits of pumpkin seeds, giving you all the more reason for making pumpkin seeds this year. Not to mention, you could win fall by making the best pumpkin seed recipe: Pumpkin Seeds with Everything Bagel Seasoning.
Pumpkin Seed NutritionPumpkin seeds are packed with healthy nutrients, like fiber and protein, and also contain impressive amounts of the micronutrients magnesium and zinc. The pumpkin seeds' protein and fiber content is considered high for a snack and is a combination that can help keep you feeling full. One serving (1 ounce, about 85 seeds) of roasted pumpkin seeds boasts:
Pumpkin Seed BenefitsHere are all the ways pumpkin seeds help to boost our health.
They have helpful antioxidants
Due to their healthy fat content, pumpkin seeds are chock-full of fat-loving antioxidants, like tocopherols and phenols. These specific antioxidants protect the body against oxidative damage, which helps to decrease the risk of chronic diseases like obesity, heart disease and cancer. Not only do pumpkin seeds contain antioxidants, but also they also may help inhibit inflammation. Though the mechanisms of this aren't fully understood yet, it could provide an explanation for the array of health benefits from pumpkin seeds.
They may help protect against cancer
People, listen to this: several studies have linked pumpkin seeds to reduced risk of breast cancer and prostate cancer.
Ladies first: a study published in Nutrition and Cancer found that postmenopausal women had a reduced their risk for breast cancer associated with higher consumption of dietary lignans, an antioxidant found in pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds and soybeans. Another lab study specifically studied pumpkin seed extract on breast cancer cells and found that the expression of breast cancer was reduced and tumor growth was slowed as a result. Happy Halloween, indeed.
Gents, you get to join in on the fun as well. The International Journal of Oncology published exciting findings on a natural supplement called ProstaCaid. This supplement was shown to suppress growth and reduce the size of prostate tumors, and contains pumpkin seed extract along with a host of other natural extracts. Pumpkin seed oil was also found to be a successful alternative or complementary treatment for benign prostatic hyperplasia, the medical term for uncomfortable and frequent urination, which is common for men as they age.
They can boost your heart health
One serving of pumpkin seeds provides about 20% of your recommended daily magnesium needs, making it a great source of magnesium. The American Heart Journal published a study showing that people with the highest blood magnesium levels had the lowest risk of death from cardiac disease. Additionally, UK researchers reviewed several studies that found magnesium supplementation was successful in helping reduce blood pressure. Aside from magnesium alone, women who supplemented with pumpkin seed oil had significantly increased high-density lipoprotein (HDL) levels. HDLs are the "good" cholesterol that helps keep your arteries clear and free from plaque buildup.
They might help you lose weight
There is good news surrounding pumpkin seeds for weight loss. Research has shown promising benefits on how the small seed may help you achieve a healthy weight. Pumpkin seeds are packed with fiber. Regular consumption of at least 25 grams of fiber a day has been shown to reduce your risk for obesity, and one serving of pumpkin seeds get you 20% of the way there. Pumpkin seeds can also help reduce and stabilize your blood glucose. Flax and pumpkin seeds were shown to reduce blood glucose in rats with diabetes down to a normal range. This has implications for weight loss, but also could be beneficial for people with diabetes or prediabetes.
How to Cook Pumpkin Seeds
If you don't already know how to roast pumpkin seeds, making them is simple and easy. You scoop the seeds out of the pumpkin, clean them off, toss them with oil and seasonings (like salt, everything bagel seasoning or chili powder) and spread them on a baking sheet to roast. Our foolproof Roasted Pumpkin Seeds recipe follows this simple process. The end result is a crispy, crunchy delicious snack. Another method for cooking pumpkin seeds to achieve a similar crunchy texture is to sauté them on the stovetop.
Tasty Flavor Combos to Try:
Everything Bagel Pumpkin Seeds
Garlic-Parm Pumpkin Seeds
Salt & Vinegar Pumpkin Seeds
Ranch Pumpkin Seeds
Cinnamon-Sugar Pumpkin Seeds
Spicy Chile-Roasted Pumpkin Seeds
Bottom LineFall's favorite seed holds a host of benefits-from providing fiber and antioxidants to potentially protecting against cancer and heart disease. There are several ways to enjoy them to reap the benefits. You can skip fancy extracts or supplements and just enjoy your roasted or raw pumpkin seeds as is.
Say cheese! Here are our favorite cheeses that are healthier than you may think.
From Gruyère to Gouda, we know a thing or two about cheese—probably because we love a good cheese board and hardly ever pass up on delicious, cheesy pizza. But because cheese is often high in saturated fat, sodium and calories, you're probably wondering if cheese is healthy.
Like with any food, eating too much isn't great, but cheese can absolutely fit into a healthy diet and has some health benefits as well. Not only is it a good source of calcium (the cow's milk variety), but the fermentation process used to make some cheeses can be beneficial for your gut health. But with all of the different cheeses on the market, it can still be heard to pick your favorite. Here is a list of the 6 healthy cheeses that will leave you feeling better about your cheesy indulgences.
ParmesanAlthough high in sodium, Parmesan's pungent flavor means a little goes a long way. Not to mention, a 1-ounce serving has 10 grams of protein and over 25 percent of your daily calcium intake.
Nutrition for a 1-ounce serving of Parmesan cheese:
Fresh MozzarellaFrom fresh caprese salads to margherita pizza, it has so many good uses that it would be a crime to pass up on this fresh cheese. Thankfully, it's pretty healthy. With 85 calories in a 1-ounce serving, this cheese is relatively low in calories and is perfect in pretty much any Italian dish.
Nutrition for a 1-ounce serving of mozzarella cheese:
Cottage CheeseWith a whopping 24 grams of protein in one cup, cottage cheese is perfect to pair with some fruit for a filling afternoon snack. Be mindful of the sodium count and opt for a brand that doesn't add any sugar, and happy snacking!
Nutrition for a ½-cup serving of 2% cottage cheese:
Ricotta CheeseWe're a sucker for spreadable cheese, and the mild yet slightly sweet taste of ricotta cheese makes it perfect for spreading on toast and pairing with jam. Ricotta also works well in savory dishes. It has over 10% of your daily recommended Vitamin A IU and 9 grams of protein.
Nutrition for a ½-cup serving of whole milk ricotta cheese:
Swiss CheeseIf you're watching your sodium intake, this is the cheese for you. With only 53 mg of sodium per ounce, this cheese has a significant less amount than most other cheeses. Not to mention, the firm cheese is perfect for your turkey sandwich, mixed into a casserole or on a charcuterie board for an added depth of nutty flavor.
Nutrition for a 1-ounce serving of Swiss cheese:
Goat CheeseSince this decadent cheese isn't made from cow's milk, you may be able to enjoy it if you are lactose intolerant without worrying about unwelcomed tummy troubles. And your local grocery store may even have it in a variety of fun flavors—think herbs & garlic or maybe even a sweet treat like cranberry goat cheese. Enjoy it crumbled over salads, dipped on crackers or even spread on your sandwich.
Nutrition for a 1-ounce serving of goat cheese:
You're making healthier meals, watching your portions and trying to move more. So why aren't you losing weight? You may be making one of these sneaky, subtle diet mistakes. Here's how to stop tripping yourself up when it comes to weight loss.
Weight-Loss Mistake #1: Guzzling your calories
And we're not just talking about alcohol (although booze is a notorious calorie bomb). The market for juice and smoothie bars globally is forecast to reach $11 billion in 2016, and those healthy-seeming beverages-yes, even green juice!-can pack on pounds, says Ellie Krieger, R.D., author of Small Changes, Big Results "Not only do they contain lots of calories, but they leave you hungry and prone to overeating," she adds. Slurping doesn't seem to set off the same chemical reaction that contributes to satiety that chewing does.
Weight-Loss Mistake #2: Equating "healthy" with "low-cal."
"Foods with health halos are the number-one blind spot for savvy dieters. You can still gain weight eating too much wild salmon and quinoa," warns Dawn Jackson Blatner, R.D.N., author of the forthcoming Superfood Swap Diet. "Yes, it's important to pay attention to the quality of your food, but when it comes to weight loss, quantity is the bottom line." Too much of a good thing is still too much.
Weight-Loss Mistake #3: Eating meal-size snacks
Research shows that between-meal bites account for a quarter of the calories we take in each day-adding about 580 calories to our diets. Rachel Beller, M.S., R.D.N., author of Eat to Lose, Eat to Win, recommends keeping snacks between 150 and 175 calories, going for something with satiating protein, like edamame, and portioning your snack rather than eating straight from the fridge or package.
Weight-Loss Mistake #4: Grocery shopping without a list
People who wing it tend to have poorer-quality diets and weigh more than those who always bring a list, according to a study published in the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior" Shopping with one makes it less likely you'll buy unhealthy snacks," explains Blatner. And that old wisdom about never shopping when you're hungry? Also, true. Wansink's lab found that hungry shoppers bought 31 percent more high-calorie snacks.
Weight-Loss Mistake #5: Getting too little sleep
Inadequate sleep can be a major diet saboteur, warns Chris Hardy, D.O., co-author of Strong Medicine: How to Conquer Chronic Disease and Achieve Your Full Genetic Potential During shut-eye, your body releases growth hormone-a major player in fat burning. "In addition, sleep loss stimulates the drive to eat, especially sugary, fatty foods," he says. Research at the University of Colorado found that participants who lost just a few hours of sleep over five nights put on an average of two pounds. Aim for about 7 hours a night.
Weight-Loss Mistake #6: Eating on the fly
Instead, make eating a mini ritual, suggests Krieger. "Put out a placemat and silverware and sit at the table. Pause before you begin and appreciate the sight and smell of the food," she says. "It only has to take 5 or 10 minutes, but you'll eat less because it prevents you from mindless nibbling and makes you feel more satisfied afterward."