According to the American Heart Association, your daily sodium dose should be 1,500 mg (about 1/2 to 3/4 teaspoon of regular table salt). Most North Americans take in around 3,600 mg. About 75 percent is from restaurant and processed foods (that turkey and bread in your lunch are examples); 12 percent is naturally found in food; and another 11 percent is added while cooking and eating at home.
High-salt diets are associated with high blood pressure, heart attack, stroke and stomach cancer. And a new study shows that if everyone cut their salt intake by 40 percent (it would still be sky-high at 2,200 mg), that alone could save a half a million lives in the next 10 years. But here’s how to knock it down to 1,500 mg per day:
• Skip fast and processed foods; opt for salads with low-sodium dressings.
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• Season with spices instead of salt (and fat).
• Read every label at the grocery store: Some brands of ketchup, for example, may be packed with salt, and that’s true for other condiments, cereals and dairy products. Be a smart salt consumer.
Exercise doesn’t always reduce prostate cancer risk
According to a new study, working out does not protect even the most active black men from prostate cancer (and they’re 40 percent more likely to develop the disease in the first place). But moderate or heavy exercise does slash the risk for white men by 53 percent. And among guys who get prostate cancer, exercise reduces the risk of having the most aggressive type by 13 percent — but again, only for white men. So what’s going on?
It seems genetics may be tipping the scales. But more research is needed to figure out why black men are more at risk. What do we know? Every guy can benefit from certain lifestyle choices that reduce the risk of prostate cancer.
So, follow these three pointers:
1. Start with 1,000 IU of D-3 daily. When blood levels of D-3 dip, your risk of dying from prostate cancer zooms up.
2. Get friendly with broccoli, other green vegetables and slow-cooked tomatoes. They’re full of nutrients that fight off prostate cancer.
3. Avoid red meats. Also, eliminate all added sugars and sugar syrups. Excess sugar just feeds hungry prostate (and other) cancer cells.
How meditation boosts your brain power
In one study, after meditating for 30 minutes a day for eight weeks, folks had more gray matter in the areas of the brain that handle learning, memory, emotional regulation and the ability to take a clear look at what’s going on. Other research shows that meditating helps you handle multitasking (and who doesn’t have to multitask these days?) and pay more attention to various incoming sensations. It also makes genes that produce inflammation-triggering proteins less active. Best of all, regular meditators who are 40 to 50 years old have areas in their cerebral cortex that are as thick as 20- to 30-year-olds’ — defying the long-held belief that age inevitably thins the cortex. It’s how meditation keeps your reaction time, thinking, retention and memory younger.
So, pull up a chair, roll out a yoga mat or take a stroll.