Everyone agrees that we need salt to live and that it is an essential nutrient, but getting the right amount is important.
(BPT) - The news lately is full of articles about salt and health. Everyone seems to be getting either too much salt or not enough. So which is it? Part of the problem is with how we study the connection. Fortunately, researchers on both sides of the issue are starting to agree on how best to proceed and may soon have a better answer for all of us. That answer may be that for most of us, there is no need to eat less salt than we do now.
The European Heart Journal recently published a report by researchers from the World Heart Federation, the European Society of Hypertension and the European Public Health Association that clarified that eating more than 5 grams of sodium per day increases the risk of heart disease, but there was little evidence that eating less than 2 grams per day had any health benefits. They recommended a safe range of between 3 and 5 grams of daily sodium. The good news is that the average American eats about 3.4 grams of sodium per day, an amount that has stayed the same for the last 50 years.
Of course more research is needed, but also better research. In the past, many studies only looked at the effect of salt on blood pressure. Today more doctors and scientists are looking at the effect salt has on your total health. The researchers agreed that your overall diet is more important to your health than a single nutrient. It’s true that a low-salt diet can lower your blood pressure slightly, but it can also place stress on other parts of your body, and that can increase the risk of bad outcomes like diabetes.
Another way research into salt and health is being improved is in the way the results are collected. In the past, people whose salt levels were being studied provided only one urine sample, but your salt levels vary throughout the day and from day to day.
A much more accurate way to study salt in people is to collect multiple urine samples over many days, not an easy task, but one that the researchers recognized produces much more accurate results. Fortunately, there is a captive group of people that scientists are studying to measure their salt intake exactly: Russian cosmonauts living in a closed environment as part of the “Mars” project. This research is already yielding some surprising results, such as more salt makes you less thirsty.
Everyone agrees that we need salt to live and that it is an essential nutrient, but getting the right amount is important. The fact is that a small percentage of people are salt sensitive and are affected by salt more than others. These individuals may benefit from less salt, but the rest of us may be put at risk from that same low-salt diet. Every person has different health needs and should follow the advice of their doctor. Placing the entire country on a low-salt diet, as some have suggested, may do more harm than good.
The month of June means more than just dusting off the patio furniture and planning for summer activities. It is also Men's Health Month, created to raise awareness of preventable health problems and encourage early disease detection among men and boys.
Helpful Hints for Men's Health Month
(Family Features) The month of June means more than just dusting off the patio furniture and planning for summer activities. It is also Men's Health Month, created to raise awareness of preventable health problems and encourage early disease detection among men and boys.
Heart disease and stroke are the nation's leading causes of death in men. An estimated 935,000 heart attacks and 795,000 strokes occur each year, yet according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, they are among the most preventable.
Experts agree diet and exercise are keys to leading a healthy lifestyle and avoiding health problems such as heart disease and prostate cancer.
Merrill Moses, a three-time United States Olympian and medal winner in water polo, is an advocate for men's health topics. In 2016, Moses celebrated his 20th year as a member of the U.S. water polo men’s national team. Still Olympic strong in his 40s, Moses shares his diet and exercise tips for superb men's health, particularly later in life:
A number of nutrition experts agree with Moses’s recommendation of pistachios as a beneficial snack, including noted dietitian Becci Twombley, director of sports nutrition at the University of Southern California. Twombley, who coaches nutrition to 650 Trojan athletes and acts as sports nutrition consultant to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim baseball team, sees a variety of health advantages linked to pistachios.
“Pistachios have a wealth of nutrients and bioactive substances that are important for a healthy heart, including fiber, potassium, phytosterols and antioxidants,” Twombley said. “So they're definitely a great low-calorie food for anyone looking to improve his health.”
Pistachios have also been linked to a number of additional health benefits according to clinical trials and medical journals. The phytosterols found in pistachios have been shown to lower blood cholesterol levels, improve urinary tract symptoms and contribute to a healthy prostate. In addition, research shows that potassium-rich pistachios may help lower blood pressure and preserve muscle in older adults.
American Pistachio Growers
From barbecues and birthdays to concerts and cookouts, summertime is the perfect time of year to bring everyone together. Water – whether plain or sparkling – is a great way to help you stay hydrated all summer long without the calories and added sugar of other summer favorites like lemonade or punch.
Rethink Your Drink This Summer
(Family Features) From barbecues and birthdays to concerts and cookouts, summertime is the perfect time of year to bring everyone together. However, nice weather and outdoor events are also coupled with summer heat waves and high temperatures.
Water – whether plain or sparkling – is a great way to help you stay hydrated all summer long without the calories and added sugar of other summer favorites like lemonade or punch. Healthy hydration in the summertime starts when you rethink your drink so you can beat the heat.
To get started, these tips from Sarah Ladden, M.S., R.D., nutrition, health and wellness director at Nestlé Waters North America, can help keep you hydrated all summer long.
This summer, rethink your drink with these tips to help make smart beverage choices. To learn more about healthy hydration, visit nestle-watersna.com.
Photo courtesy of Getty ImagesSOURCE:
Nestlé Waters North America
(BPT) - Does it ever seem like a lot of healthy-eating advice is about “less,” “giving up” and “taking away?” Reducing fat and sodium intake, avoiding high-calorie foods and trimming portion sizes are commonly heard pieces of advice when you’re trying to lose weight or improve your diet. But health experts agree, good eating doesn’t just mean giving up bad habits, it’s also about adding foods with more nutritional value.
“Instead of focusing on what you shouldn’t eat, focus on making nutrition-packed swaps,” says registered dietitian and nutritionist Dawn Jackson Blatner. “A few easy swaps I tell my clients about include replacing white bread with whole grain, higher-fat protein sources with leaner ones, and upgrading your ordinary products like eggs or cereal with higher-nutrition varieties.”
Here are five better-for-you food swaps from Blatner that will jam-pack your diet with enhanced nutrition without making you feel like you’re giving anything up:
Instead of mayo
Try an avocado-based spread on your sandwiches and as a base for homemade dressings. A single tablespoon of mayonnaise has 90 calories, 10 grams of fat, 5 milligrams of cholesterol and 90 milligrams of sodium, but zero potassium or fiber, according to the California Avocado Commission. In comparison, 2 tablespoons of fresh avocado have just 50 calories, 4.5 grams of (mostly good) fat, no cholesterol or sodium, and 150 milligrams of potassium and 2 grams of fiber.
Instead of any old egg
Try eggs with superior nutritional benefits. While all eggs are high in protein, Eggland’s Best eggs contain double the omega-3s and three times more vitamin B12 than ordinary eggs — both nutrients associated with heart health. Plus, they contain 25 percent less saturated fat, five times more vitamin D, and 10 times more vitamin E than ordinary eggs.
Instead of white rice
While carbohydrates are necessary to fuel your brain and muscles, many favorite sources are stripped of nutrition, such as white rice. Cauliflower can be an easy substitute for rice. This white veggie packs plenty of fiber, protein, potassium and vitamin C. To replace rice, simply pulse the cauliflower in a food processor for a few seconds until you achieve the desired consistency.
Instead of fried food
The crunch of fried food is alluring, but you can get that same crunch in a much healthier superfood way. Instead of coating chicken or fish with breading and plunging it into a bath of hot oil, use chopped nuts. Nuts contain healthy fat, protein, and fiber and when baked in a hot oven (about 400-425 degrees F), nut-coated protein is crunchy and delicious. Try nut-covered chicken fingers today!
Instead of ground beef
Americans love beef and eat about 25 billion pounds of it every year, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. But depending on the quality and cut you buy, beef can be high in fat and cholesterol. Lentils can be a high-nutrition protein source that can go virtually anywhere you use ground beef, including burgers, meatloaf and taco filling. Naturally low in calories and fat free, lentils provide fiber, protein and potassium.
Food swaps focused on increasing healthful nutrients, rather than decreasing what you don’t want, can be rewarding and delicious. Try this recipe from Eggland’s best to get started on your new “more-is-better” lifestyle.
Sweet Potato Bowl
(BPT) - A typical soup and sandwich lunch can seem like a healthy meal. However, the bread, cold cuts and soup can be packed with something that can have a negative impact on your overall wellness: salt.
“Even meals that seem healthy, like a turkey sandwich with a side of cottage cheese, can have high levels of salt. It may not even taste salty," says John Meigs, Jr., MD, president of the American Academy of Family Physicians.
Meigs says one of the biggest mistakes people make is to assume if they aren't adding salt with a salt shaker, their sodium levels are under control. The truth: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates Americans get 77 percent of their salt from processed foods and restaurant meals, compared to 6 percent from the salt shaker at the table and 5 percent added during home cooking.
According to the CDC, the top 10 foods that contribute to a significant amount of the salt Americans consume are:
1. Breads and rolls
2. Cold cuts and cured meat (e.g., deli or packaged ham or turkey)
4. Fresh and processed poultry
6. Sandwiches such as cheeseburgers
8. Pasta dishes (not including macaroni and cheese)
9. Meat-mixed dishes such as meatloaf and tomato sauce
10. Snacks such as chips, pretzels and popcorn
Some salt is necessary for the body to function properly, but too much can contribute to high blood pressure, heart disease and stroke. The CDC says most people should limit total salt intake to 2,300 milligrams a day or less.
"There are 2,300 milligrams of sodium — the chemical name for salt — in a single teaspoon of table salt," Meigs notes. "It's a real challenge to reduce salt intake, even for people who are highly motivated to do so."
Meigs offers some easy strategies to lower hidden salt intake and take control of your nutrition:
Know your numbers
Talk with a doctor about your blood pressure, cholesterol levels, family health history and ways to prevent health problems before they start. Visit familydoctor.org to learn more.
Read nutrition labels
It takes mere seconds to read nutrition labels to see which items are high in sodium. Sometimes this information is even printed on the front of the package.
Keep in mind, different brands of the same foods often contain varying levels of salt. For example, a slice of white bread can range anywhere from 80 to 230 milligrams of salt. Salt levels in a can of chicken noodle soup can range from 100 to 900 milligrams per serving.
Be a smart diner
Dining out can still be a healthy treat with a little proactive effort. If nutrition information isn’t included on the menu, do some homework in advance by visiting the restaurant’s website. You may be surprised to find that items billed as “light or healthy fare” are often high in salt.
Opt for whole foods
Whether eating out or dining in, filling your plate with whole foods — items in their natural state or close to it — will help you lower your sodium levels. Non-processed fresh foods that are high in fiber are ideal, for example, fresh fruits, vegetables, lean meat and whole grains.
Prepare food at home
It's easier to regulate salt consumption by preparing meals at home. Not only can you select healthy ingredients and pack your plate with whole foods, you can control the salt you add to dishes by manipulating recipes and including flavor-enhancing alternatives like fresh herbs.
A break from the regular school routine may be a welcome change, but for many teens, summer is just as busy as the school year. Jobs, athletic activities and social events can keep that so-called “break” jam-packed with action. Time management is essential, but there are some other easy steps teens can take to save time and make sure there’s at least a little room left to kick back and enjoy all that summer has to offer.
5 Time-Savers for Busy Teens
(Family Features) A break from the regular school routine may be a welcome change, but for many teens, summer is just as busy as the school year. Jobs, athletic activities and social events can keep that so-called “break” jam-packed with action.
Time management is essential, but there are some other easy steps teens can take to save time and make sure there’s at least a little room left to kick back and enjoy all that summer has to offer.
A busy summer may not feel like much of a vacation, but if you work to manage and save time where you can, you’ll be able to carve out some much needed rest and relaxation.
Photo courtesy of Getty ImagesSOURCE:
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