Low salt diet save lives

By PATSY GAINES Milam County Health Director
Cutting salt could prevent almost 500,000 heart attacks each year. A combined government-industry initiative to reduce U.S. sodium consumption by as little as 10 percent would save thousands of lives and billions of dollars, according to a new research.

Cutting salt reduces blood pressure, a key factor contributing to heart attacks and strokes.

This new report strongly supports the conclusion that a concerted national effort to reduce sodium in processed foods would save hundreds of thousands of lives at minimal cost.

We should not delay taking on this challenge. The initiative is targeted primarily at restaurants and food manufacturers, which supply the majority of sodium in American diets.

To have government collaboration with the food industry to reduce the amount of sodium in processed foods similar to an effort undertaken in the United Kingdom has led to an estimated 9.5 percent decline in overall sodium consumption among its residents.

For instance, if the United States had the same 9.5 percent decline as in the United Kingdom that would mean that the United States would prevent 531,885 strokes and 480,358 heart attacks over the lifetime of adults ages 40 to 85.

This would increase qualityadjusted life years by 2.1 million and would save $32.1 billion in medical costs.

If you look at the experience in other countries, for example, the U.K., which has been a leader in reducing salt, we find that if you drop the amount of salt suddenly, people notice, but if you drop it slowly over time, months or a year, then nobody notices.

A gradual reduction of salt in the food supply and other policy and environmental strategies will help reduce the amount of sodium that Americans consume over time, leading to important, sustainable changes to the American diet, and decreasing rates of high blood pressure, heart disease and stroke.

A comprehensive, coordinated approach to sodium reduction by government agencies, the public health community, industry, academic, healthcare and science will help educate consumers about the health risks of a highsodium diet.

The American Heart Association has set a goal for 2020, to improve the cardiovascular health of all Americans by 20 percent while reducing deaths from cardiovascular diseases and stroke by 20 percent.

Part of that goal is helping people reduce the amount of sodium they eat to less than 1500 mg/day.

We must, and we can, work together as a country to help each and every American eat a heart healthy, delicious diet, while consuming no more than 1500 mg per day of sodium.

The American Heart Association will continue to partner with industry and policymakers to develop effective strategies to maximize technologies that remove sodium from the food supply and create economic incentives for manufacturers and retailers to develop sodium reduction plans.

This must be a top priority for local, state, and federal governments as they move forward with initiatives to improve the nutritional content of meals consumed by the U. S. population.

For more information, go to

Salmonella safety

Keeping you and your family safe from salmonella and other food-borne illness like e-coli begins before you start to cook and prepare meals.

The refrigerator is a likely source for the spread of salmonella. Ready-to-eat foods are food like fruits, vegetables, cheese and lunch meat that can be eaten without cooking.

Because these foods are uncooked there is no chance to ‘kill’ harmful germs they may contain. To avoid contaminating your ready-to-eat food, defrost meat, poultry and fish in a sealed container to avoid drips and wipe up spills that do occur with an anti-bacterial wipe.

A lso wash fruits and vegetables thoroughly before you eat them and check the packaging on fruit juices and dairy products to see if they have been pasteurized.

Pasteurization kills bacteria and makes these items safe to consume. These same rules apply for transporting uncooked foods in a cooler. Keep raw meats in a sealed container and if possible in a separate cooler from prepared foods like salads and dips.

Salmonella affects 4 million people a year, but can easily be prevented by practicing proper food safety.

Milam County Health Department

• Local hours—Tues. & Thurs., 9 a.m.-noon & 1-4:30 p.m. • Phone—Rockdale office: 512-446-4026. Cameron office: 254-697-7039. • Web site: www.milamhealth. com.

Provides immunizations, TB tests, a well-child clinic, septic inspections, vision and hearing screenings, blood pressure checks, diabetes screening, STD tests, indigent health care applications, food handlers inspections.

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