Ilene’s Healthy Tips for August 25 – 29, 2014

Skip the Shaker and Tame Your Salt Habit

Monday, August 25, 2014 – Worth your salt?

Ilene Yalen, MSRD WellAmerica 2014

Ilene Yalen, MSRD
WellAmerica 2014

Too much sodium can put your health at risk.  Although sodium lost by your body, mainly through sweat, needs to be replaced for health, most American’s including firefighters consume too much sodium every day. The average American obtains three times more sodium than the recommended 2,400 milligrams per day. When you consume more sodium than you need, it causes fluid retention, which increases blood volume and requires the heart to pump harder to push this blood through your arteries. Over time, this often leads to an increase in blood pressure, which damages organs, including heart, kidneys, brain, and even eyes. It also damages artery walls and eventually leads to an increased risk of heart attack or a stroke. By 2025, predictions suggest, 60% of Americans will have high blood pressure. It’s important to read labels, know how much sodium you consume every day, and to cut back if needed.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014 – Salt of the earth

Sodium-rich foods may not taste salty at all. But, even if you don’t add salt to your meals, you could be getting too much. It is estimated that 80% of the sodium we consume comes from processed/ packaged foods.  Many canned, frozen, baked goods and other processed and packaged foods are loaded with sodium, as it’s used as a preservative.  Baked goods contain baking soda, which has 1,259 mg of sodium per teaspoon. Even a Grande Starbucks Java Chip Frappuccino has a whopping 300 mg of sodium per serving!  To cut back on sodium intake, choose fresh protein sources, grains, beans and vegetables whenever possible, and if you do choose canned, buy ones that say “no salt added” or “low salt” on the label, or rinse the contents under the tap to remove excess sodium.  When looking at food labels, aim to pass on any food that contains more than 500 mg of salt per serving.  At home, keep your favorite flavor of salt-free herb and spice blend (like Mrs. Dash) front and center on your kitchen table to help you break the habit of salting your food.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014 – Cheap stuff

Think you’re choosing healthy foods at restaurants?  Because sodium is such a cheap flavor enhancer, it is added to foods that may already be processed and high in sodium such as packaged meats, cheese and sauce.  A typical fast-food meal can contain up to 5,000 mg of sodium – two times the salt allowed per day!  When you order, ask for half the cheese, sauces on the side and more vegetable toppings.  Always dress your sandwiches and burgers yourself.  This way, you can not only control the amounts of condiments used, but choose those that are lower in sodium:

Choose these:

Balsamic vinegar: 2 teaspoons has 14 calories, 0 grams fat, and 2 milligrams sodium

Mustard: 1 teaspoon has 10 calories, 0 grams fat, and 100 milligrams sodium

Pickle relish: 1 tablespoon has 21 calories, 0 grams fat, and 109 milligrams sodium

Horseradish:  2 teaspoons has 4 calories, 0 grams fat, and 10 milligrams sodium

Lemon Juice (from ½ lemon):  8 calories, 0 grams fat, and 1 milligram sodium

Instead of these:

Creamy Southwest dressing ( 71 gram serving): 1,060 milligrams of sodium

Bacon Ranch Dressing (71 gram serving): 810 milligram sodium

Asian Sesame Dressing (71 gram serving): 780 milligram sodium

Thursday, August 28, 2014

There’s a variety of low sodium sauces and dressings available on the market, but it’s usually healthier and less costly to make your own.  Here are some low sodium recipes that can add flavor to many dishes;

For gravy’s or soups, you can boil your own chicken and vegetables or use a salt free vegetable or chicken bouillon recipe:  

  • 1 cube of salt free chicken or vegetable bouillon (1 tsp)
  • ¾ c. of cold water
  • 1 tbsp. of cornstarch
  • Pinch of thyme
  • Pinch of pepper
  • Dissolve cornstarch and powdered bouillon cubes in cold water, add spices and cook on medium while stirring constantly.

Makes 1 cup

For salad or pasta dressings, try low sodium vinaigrette:

  • ½ cup of red wine vinegar
  • 1/3 cup of Olive oil
  • 1 tsp of lemon juice
  • 1 tsp of crushed garlic
  • 1 tbsp. of Italian seasoning
  • 1/8 tsp of pepper
  • 1 tsp of mustard (optional)

Makes ¾ cup

Friday, August 29, 2014 – Dash it all

To reduce the risk of high blood pressure and promote heart health, try exercising and meditating regularly and follow below…

DASH Diet!  The Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension program, popularly known as DASH, was developed by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute and recommended as one of the top, nationally recommended diets for heart health and weight loss. The results of the DASH-sodium studies have confirmed the significant health benefits associated with a heart healthy, low sodium diet. For several low sodium, nutritious DASH compatible recipes follow this link:

If you have any questions on the above tips or are interested in having a nutrition consult with Ilene, you can either contact Ilene directly at or WellAmerica at


Ilene’s Healthy Tips for August 11 – 15, 2014

Monday, August 11, 2014

Ilene Yalen, MSRD WellAmerica 2014

Ilene Yalen, MSRD
WellAmerica 2014

Are you eating healthy? One common mistake that many healthy eaters overlook is the amount of sodium consumed. Often when you’re weighing healthy options, the focus is on reducing calories, fat and getting enough protein. Remember, since sodium is firmly tied to an increased risk of high blood pressure, the Institute of Medicine recommends people limit their intake to below 2,300 milligrams per day, and 1,500 mg for people 51 and older, African Americans, and anyone with high blood pressure or diabetes. Common foods loaded with sodium are canned soups, vegetables, beans, tomato products and packaged meats and meals.  If needed, aim to salt your foods after they are prepared as you’ll consume much less sodium overall, or use spices and herbs for flavor instead.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Exercising too much? Pushing yourself is usually a good thing when it comes to physical activity. But your body needs rest too, especially after an extra-hard workout. Signs that you are working out too hard can be mental and physical, and include fatigue, difficulty sleeping, decreased immunity, muscle soreness, and injury. It is also common to eat more unhealthy foods throughout the day, when you’re fatigued, in order to increase energy. This only sabotages your efforts.  To keep your workouts fresh—and avoid overuse injuries—it’s a good idea to vary your routine, and give yourself a day off now and then. On day 6 or 7 every week, sitting back and relaxing may be better for your body than going to the gym.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Choose the rainbow of colors! By now, pretty much everyone knows they should be eating at least five servings of varied colored fruit and vegetables per day. Eating plenty of produce helps reduce your risk of heart disease and several types of cancer, and can help you manage your weight as well. But a recent state-by-state survey, by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, found that just one-third of adults reported eating at least two servings of fruit a day, and only about one-quarter ate three or more servings of vegetables daily. Aim to consume at least 2 vegetable servings at every lunch and dinner and 3 pieces of fruit as part of your snacks between meals.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Coconut sugar? Refined, white sugar is proven to raise your risk of all chronic diseases, but that doesn’t mean you have to give up sweet  foods to eat healthy.  Coconut sugar, made from the sap of coconut-tree blossoms, offers the same number of carbohydrates and calories as table sugar however, coconut sugar ranks just 35 on the glycemic index, while regular table sugar ranks between 60 and 75, so it produces a less dramatic blood sugar spike. Coconut sugar also contains trace amounts of vitamin C, B vitamins, potassium, phosphorous, magnesium, calcium, zinc, iron and copper as well as phytonutrients, such as polyphenols, flavonoids and anthocyanidin, and antioxidants. Despite the name, it doesn’t have a coconut flavor; it has more of a caramel taste, which works well in coffee or tea. And because it’s granular, it can also be a great substitute for white or brown sugar in recipes.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Looking for condiments that provide some nutrition? Try Dijon mustard, hot sauce, humus, guacamole, pesto, Tahini, salsa, lemon juice, balsamic vinegar and of course all your spices. Ketchup also offers lycopene, an anticancerous phytochemical, and you can make your own to greatly lower its sugar content.