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Shake It Off: Reducing Salt May Reduce Health Risks

PHOTO: It's estimated about 17 percent of kids in the U.S. eat too much sodium, which can be a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke. Photo credit: Iain Watson
PHOTO: It's estimated about 17 percent of kids in the U.S. eat too much sodium, which can be a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke. Photo credit: Iain Watson
November 5, 2014

DES MOINES, Iowa - The election season had Iowa voters taking it all in "with a grain of salt," but with the coming holidays they're being urged to go the other way and "hold the salt." Those who have far too much sodium in their diets can be at an increased risk of health issues. Registered dietitian Lori Jones says while many have done a good job cutting back on salt in foods they prepare at home, most just don't do as much of their own cooking these days.

"We don't have a lot of control over what is in our food when we eat out, so we're picking up a lot of sodium there," she says. "We're also into convenience - so, we're using a lot of prepackaged, processed foods."

Jones says too much sodium can increase a person's risk for high blood pressure, stroke, heart disease and other major health problems.

Jones adds, unfortunately, the consequences of a high-sodium diet are no longer limited to adults.

"We're starting to see high blood pressure in younger ages, like teenage years," she says. "If you have a child that's overweight, having a high-salt diet may push them toward high blood pressure at an earlier age."

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly 90 percent of U.S. children eat more sodium than recommended, and about one in six children has raised blood pressure.

John Michaelson, Public News Service - IA