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The Voice of the Black Community

Health

What you eat is what you get: Food and your heart
Avoid salt, which can increase hypertension risk
 
Published Wednesday, January 30, 2019 1:14 pm
by Ashley Mahoney | The Charlotte Post

PHOTO | EDI LIBEDINSKY
Preservatives, especially salt, can raise the risk of high blood pressure.

Sodium has a way of creeping into what the average American eats.


Excess sodium intake contributes to an increase in blood pressure, which leads to an increased risk for heart disease and stroke, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Heart disease and stroke kill more Americans annually than anything else, but disproportionally affects African Americans.


If 71 percent of a person’s daily sodium intake comes from processed foods or food prepared at a restaurant, what steps need to be taken to change that statistic? Dr. Sandy Charles of Novant Health’s Heart and Vascular Institute outlined a few easy areas to help manage salt consumption.


Helping your doctor understand cultural context when discussing diet is helpful.


Charles’ grandmother Marie, died of a stroke due in part, she believes to poor eating habits.


“My grandmother had really bad high blood pressure, and she was really skeptical of her doctor,” Charles said. “When she would go, [the doctor] would say, ‘take this medication. Take this medication,’ and wouldn’t really delve into how she was cooking her foods, or what she was putting into her foods. She would do things she thought was healthy, but in fact, it wasn’t. Some of it is just taking time to educate people.”


What you consider eating healthy may not actually be good for you, such as canned foods and processed meat.


“People will say, ‘oh I’m eating healthy,’” Charles said.  “‘I’m having canned soups. I’m having canned beans.’ That is a big red flag. Anything in cans has a really high sodium level. People will say, ‘I’ve stopped having fried chicken, and now all I’ll have are sandwiches with cold cuts.’ Well guess what? Sliced ham and sliced turkey, that’s horrible! I’ll find ways to deal with that.”


Always remember: fresh is best. Shop the perimeter of the store if possible. That is where you find perishable goods such as produce and protein, items that have not been slapped with large amounts of sodium to preserve them.

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