KENTUCKY — National Eating Healthy Day is Wednesday, November 5, and the American Heart Association wants people pledge to reduce their sodium intake in two easy steps: take the sodium pledge at www.heart.org/sodium and increase their fruits and vegetable consumption.

Americans typically consume about half their recommended daily servings of fruits and vegetables, and twice the recommended daily salt intake. The American Heart Association recommends eating eight or more fruit and vegetable servings (approximately 4 ½ cups) and no more than 1,500 milligrams of sodium every day.

“Fruits and vegetables are high in vitamins, minerals and fiber, and low in saturated fat and calories. Plus, most fruits and vegetables also have no or little sodium,”said Rebecca Dunn, Heart Walk Director for the American Heart Association. “We know that too much sodium in the diet can increase risk for high blood pressure, stroke, heart disease and other major health problems.”

In an effort to help people better understand and limit their sodium intake, the American Heart Association has launched a new awareness campaign, wtih an online pledge for people to commit to reduce how much sodium they eat, along with a new video, “Don’t Let Salt Sneak Up on You,” to show how sodium is sneaking into our foods.

Limiting salt in the bigger picture—the U.S. food supply—is an important goal of the campaign. That’s because 75 percent of Americans’ sodium consumption is from processed, prepackaged, and restaurant foods, not the salt shaker.

“It’s challenging for Americans to stick to sodium intake recommendations because most of the sodium we eat in this country is added to our food before we buy it,” said Matt Rountree, Communications Director for the American Heart Association. “In order to really make a difference in the health of all Americans, we must reduce sodium in the food supply through the support of food manufacturers, food processors and the restaurant industry.”

While heart disease and stroke are leading causes of death and disability for all Americans, more than 80 percent of risk factors for heart disease and stroke are preventable through behaviors like making better food choices, getting regular exercise, keeping a healthy weight and not smoking.

The American Heart Association is offering a free fruits and vegetable resource guide to help people incorporate more fruits and vegetables in their diet.

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