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Last year, I transformed into a self-proclaimed bird nerd. The change started in the spring of 2020 when I started working from home because of COVID. I placed my desk next to a window and in April, I noticed a robin building a nest. Watching the robin sit on her nest for hours upon hours was fascinating and I was quickly hooked.

In May, bluebirds visited my suburban backyard for the first time and after putting up a bluebird house, we hosted the pair of bluebirds and their 3 adorable babies several weeks later. I was fascinated by the whole process, from the nesting, feeding, and successful fledging (developing wing feathers that are large enough for flight). I cheered the first day the babies flew out of their box and also experienced sadness when they left their house for good. My sorrow was quickly replaced with joy when a pair of Baltimore orioles passed through for a couple of days. I was enthralled watching the colorful birds eat the grape jelly I set out. Summer brought ruby-throated hummingbirds and warblers. This winter, I am enjoying a barred owl who lives nearby and occasionally graces me with his majestic presence.

Picture of a Barred Owl by Laura Stanton.
Barred Owl
Photo by Laura M. Stanton

Although the joy of birding happens right outside my window most days, whenever possible, I safely visit different habitats to expand the variety of birds to watch. Whether I am inside or outside, I notice so much more than just the birds. I notice positive changes happening within.

The benefits I have experienced from watching our feathered friends have been confirmed by research. Why is birding good for your health? Watching birds:

  • Promotes mindfulness. Mindfulness is paying attention on purpose, in the moment, and without judgment. Whether you are birding inside or out, you are in the “here and now” which has been shown to decrease stress, anxiety, and rumination, and improve attention, memory, and focus. In addition, mindfulness can reduce chronic pain.
  • Requires stealth and silence. Spending time in silence lowers blood pressure, increases blood flow, and enhances sleep. Silence can also be therapeutic for depression.
  • Encourages meditation. During meditation, you eliminate the “noise” in your mind, creating a sense of calm and peace that benefits your emotional well-being and your overall health.
  • Relies on your sense of sight and hearing. A study found that just listening to bird song contributes to perceived attention restoration and stress recovery. Click here to listen to a sample of common bird songs.
  • Prevents nature-deficit disorder, a phenomenon related to the growing disconnect between humans and the natural world. Americans, on average, spend approximately 90% of their time indoors.
  • Benefits your heart. Regular exposure to nature is associated with improvements in cardiovascular disease and longevity.
  • Stimulates a sense of gratitude, which is strongly and consistently associated with greater happiness.

Sources
Carter, S. (2016). Nature deficit disorder. Live Smart Ohio. Retrieved from https://livesmartohio.osu.edu/mind-and-body/carter-413osu-edu/nature-deficit-disorder   

Louv, R. (2008). Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder. Algonquin Books: Chapel Hill, NC.

Powers-Barker, P. (2016). Introduction to mindfulness. Ohioline. Retrieved from
https://ohioline.osu.edu/factsheet/hyg-5243

Stanton, L. M. (2020). Barred Owl. JPEG file.

Stanton, L. M. (2020). Noises off: The benefits of silence. Live Smart Ohio. Retrieved from
https://livesmartohio.osu.edu/mind-and-body/stanton-60osu-edu/noises-off-the-benefit-of-silence

Written by Laura M. Stanton, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Warren County, stanton.60.osu.edu

Reviewed by Misty Harmon, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Perry County, harmon.416@osu.edu

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Probably nothing upsets parents more on a daily basis than the constant bickering and fighting that goes on between children within the family. Sibling rivalry, a common issue faced by most parents, has been around as long as there have been brothers and sisters. As upsetting as it may be, some sibling rivalry and conflict can be beneficial. It gives children their first experience in learning how to interact and get along with others. A child who has siblings is taught how to see another individual’s point of view, how to settle disputes, how to compromise and how to show affection and not hold a grudge.

Even though there is a positive side to quarrels among siblings, there are also times when parents need to intervene.  The following information can give you some guidelines about what might be an appropriate stance to take about when and how to intervene.

black-and-white-childhood-children-460032

  • Stay out of it – If there is normal bickering, minor name calling, then the parent’s role is to stay out of it, and let them settle the disagreement on their own.
  • Acknowledge anger and reflect each child’s viewpoint. – If you notice the volume going up, nasty name-calling, mild physical contact, or threats of danger.
  • Firmly stop the interaction, review rules, and help with conflict resolution. – If the potential for danger is more serious.
  • Firmly stop the children and separate them. – if it becomes a dangerous situation. One in which physical or emotional harm is about to or has occurred. If a child is hurt, attend to that child first, review the rules, and possibly impose a consequence.

One way to manage sibling rivalry between your children is to establish family rules in your home. Having rules in place is a way to communicate your family values and forces you to think in advance about what behavior is important to you and what you want to enforce. These rules need to be enforced with predictable consequences. Don’t ignore the rules or make exceptions when you feel tired. C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital shares more parenting resources on handling sibling rivalry.

It is also important to remember that you are your child’s first teacher. Modeling cooperative behavior, gives your child an example of how to handle frustrations and resolve conflict. These tips can help decrease the amount of sibling quarrels in your home.   There is nothing better than harmony.

Writer: Kathy Green, Family & Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University, Clark County, green.1405@osu.edu

 

Reviewer: Alisha Barton, Family & Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University, Miami County, barton.345@osu.edu

 

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February is American Heart Month sponsored by The American Heart Association. It is no surprise that heart disease is the leading cause of death in both men and women. What may surprise a few, is that it’s the number one killer in women, claiming nearly 500,000 lives. Most people believed that it affects more men so many women did not pay much attention to the disease. National Wear Red Day was started to raise awareness about heart disease being the number one killer of women. Tomorrow will mark 15 years since the 1st National Wear Red Day was observed. National Wear Red Day is held on the first Friday in February.

Since raising awareness many women have been making changes in their lives to be more heart conscience. Some of the strides they’ve made have included losing weight, increasing their exercise, making a healthy behavior change and checking cholesterol levels. Today, nearly 300 fewer women die from heart disease and stroke each day, and deaths in women have decreased by more than 30 percent over the past 10 years! Even though all of this progress has been made, 1 in 3 women still die of heart disease and stroke each year.

 

So what can you do besides wear RED tomorrow? Know your heart healthy numbers.

  1. Risk factors you can* and cannot control
    1. High blood pressure*
    2. Diabetes*
    3. Lack of regular activity*
    4. Age
    5. Gender
    6. Heredity
  2. Know your numbers
    1. Total cholesterol
    2. HDL cholesterol
    3. Blood Pressure
    4. Blood Sugar
    5. Body Mass Index
  3. Take Action
    1. Manage blood pressure
    2. Control cholesterol
    3. Reduce blood sugar
    4. Get active
    5. Eat better
    6. Lose weight
    7. Stop smoking

If you would like to find out more information on each of the areas above, you can visit GoRedforWomen.org  On their site you can take a risk factors quiz and learn more about the warning signs of a heart attack and stroke.

I hope to see lots of RED tomorrow.

 

Sources:

https://www.goredforwomen.org/get-involved/national-wear-red-day/national-wear-red-day/

https://www.goredforwomen.org/fight-heart-disease-women-go-red-women-official-site/know-your-risk/

https://healthfinder.gov/NHO/FebruaryToolkit.aspx

 

Author: Amanda Bohlen, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Washington County, bohlen.19@osu.edu

Reviewer: Misty Harmon, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Perry County, harmon.416@osu.edu

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Stethoscope on cashIf you are lucky enough to have elderly parents, you know what a precious gift it is to have them. However, with this precious gift of time, there are some challenges that occur as they age and need your help. It is difficult when the roles of parent and child begin to shift and the children become the caregivers. One of the most complicated issues is when there is a need to take over your parents’ finances. Taking control can be awkward and complicated, but putting it off too long can make it very difficult to sort out all of their accounts and make the necessary legal steps to ensure your ability to successfully manage your parent’s money.

How do you know when it is time to step in? Watch for early signs that your parent’s cognitive ability is declining, and there is a need to step in and take control. If you wait too long, there’s a good chance that significant financial losses have occurred. Some of the signs to look for are:

  • They become forgetful about cash
  • They start getting calls from creditors
  • Their house is filled with expensive new purchases
  • They have difficulty with simple tasks like balancing their checkbook
  • Bills have been paid repeatedly or not paid at all
  • Bills that seem much higher than they should be and cannot be explained
  • Donations to charity that do not match your parents priorities

 

Raising the topic might be difficult. Older adults may be resistant to relinquishing control of their finances. They may see this as the first step of losing their independence, which is one of the top two concerns for older adults. Prepare to Care: A Planning Guide for Families from AARP gives helpful insight on how to start the conversation. They suggest:

  1. Look for an opening: You might use an article you read about or something you saw in the news to raise the topic.
  2. Respect your loved one’s wishes: Your plan must be centered on the person receiving care.
  3. Size up the situation: Figuring out your loved one’s priorities help determine your next steps
  4. Counter resistance: Your loved one might say, “I just don’t want to talk about it.” Some people are private by nature. If your first conversation does not go well, try again.

Managing your own finances can be challenging enough, and you aren’t excited about taking on the task of managing your parents finances as well. Addressing the topic can be awkward, but if no one steps in to help, the assets that your parents spent a lifetime accumulating could be lost.

 

Written by: Kathy Green, Extension Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Clark County

Reviewed by: Michelle Treber, Extension Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Pickaway County

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For many people, the cold winter months bring an onset of what is described as the winter blues.  The colder, darker winter months can cause a change in our moods and our behaviors.  Some examples are sleeping more, becoming more irritable, eating more, and avoiding friends or social situations.

Dr. Emma Seppala, Science Director of the Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education at Stanford University and Co-Director of the Yale College Emotional Intelligence Project at Yale University, offers these tips for beating the winter blues:

  • CONNECT
    • One great way to connect to others in the winter months is to volunteer, at a shelter, a food bank, a nursing home, or at an after school program.
    • Another way is to stay active.  Join a fitness class.  Invite some friends to go on a walk or meet at a gym to shoot some hoops.
  • BREATHE
    • Practice mindfulness activities, like yoga or meditation, to help center your thoughts and help you to relax.
  • SAVOR
    • Be present in whatever activity you are engaged in. Turn off the cell phones and focus on where you are and who are you are with.
    • Curl up with your loved ones (spouse, childen, grandchildren) under a warm and cozy, blanket and read a book or watch a funny movie.
    • Eat healthier meals and take time to eat at a leisurely pace.

If you find that the winter blues are interfering with your daily activities for a period longer than two weeks, please consult your family physician or a mental health professional.  Seasonal Affective Disorder is a mood disorder that is categorized as a type of depression and occurs during months where individuals have less exposure to natural sunlight that can be treated with appropriate medical help.

Written By: Jami Dellifield, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Hardin County, Ohio State Extension, dellifield.2@osu.edu

Reviewed By:  Pat Brinkman, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Fayette County, Ohio State University Extension, brinkman.93@osu.edu

SOURCES:

Sepalla, Emma M. PhD, “3 Definitive Ways to Beat The Winter Blues”, Psychology Today. Web January 20, 2016 https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/feeling-it/201601/3-definitive-ways-beat-winter-blues

https://www.mentalhealth.gov/what-to-look-for/mood-disorders/seasonal-affective-disorder/index.html

REFERENCES:

Roecklein, Kathryn A., Rohan, Kelly J., PhD, “Seasonal Affective Disorder: An Overview and Update”, Psychiatry (Edgmont). 2005 Jan; 2(1): 20–26. Published online 2005 Jan. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3004726/

http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/stress-anxiety-depression/Pages/dealing-with-winter-blues-sad.aspx

“Information from Your Doctor: Seasonal Affective Disorder”, American Family Physician. 2000 Mar 1;61(5):1531-1532. http://www.aafp.org/afp/2000/0301/p1531.html

PHOTO CREDIT:

https://pixabay.com/en/post-light-lamp-outside-95090/

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Did you know that today is National Raspberry Cream Pie Day?  Raspberries are abundant at this time of year.  Raspberries- like many other fruits- are an excellent source of Vitamin C, manganese and fiber. They also contain the phytonutrient ellagic acid, a potential anti-cancer agent.   They are an excellent source of soluble fiber and may help lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Raspberries also provide a slow release of carbohydrates into the blood stream.  This fruit is very low in calories, providing just 64 calories per cup serving. Raspberries also provide 8 grams of fiber and 54% of the daily need for Vitamin C.

If you are looking for raspberries on this eventful day you may be surprised to find that a variety of colors from red to black to purple to yellow are all available. Raspberries should be bright, shiny, and uniform in color. Avoid ones that are dull and appear to have surface moisture, as moisture promotes decay.  Handle this produce very gently to avoid bruising. Bruising shortens the life of the fruit and contributes to low quality. Berries are highly perishable; therefore, store fresh raspberries uncovered in the refrigerator as soon as possible. Gently rinse berries in cold water prior to use.  Never soak berries in water.  Be aware that raspberry shelf life is short so only buy what you can use. Plan to eat your berries within one to two days after purchase.

Try this quick and easy Raspberry Cream Pie Recipe:raspberry-925190_640

Ingredients

  • 1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
  • 5 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 pints fresh raspberries
  • 1 (9 inch) prepared reduced fat graham cracker pie crust

Directions

  1. Whisk sweetened condensed milk and lemon juice together in a bowl; gently fold 1 pint of raspberries.
  2. Spread filling evenly within the crust.
  3. Refrigerate until set, at least 3 hours.
  4. Top pie with remaining fresh raspberries when ready to serve and enjoy!

Recipe adapted from allrecipes http://allrecipes.com/recipe/229009/fresh-red-raspberry-cream-pie/print/?recipeType=Recipe&servings=16

 

Not enough time to make a pie today? Try these quick and easy ways to add raspberries to your National Raspberry Cream Pie Day:

  • Add fresh raspberries to hot and cold cereals
  • Top nonfat yogurt with fresh raspberries and some granola for a great breakfast, snack or dessert.
  • Combine raspberries into a fresh lettuce salad and top with a low fat vinaigrette dressing
  • Lastly, just enjoy fresh berries as a snack. They are delicious, sweet and juicy!

WRITTEN BY: Susan Zies, Extension Educator, Family & Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Wood County and Marcia Jess, Program Coordinator, Wood County.

REVIEWED BY: Shawna Hite, Healthy People Program Specialist, Ohio State University Extension, Family & Consumer Sciences

Sources:

http://ohioline.osu.edu/factsheet/HYG-5511

http://extension.illinois.edu/raspberries/

Click to access RaspberryFFS.pdf

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This time of year is always magical from a gardening perspective. Perennials and bulbs are blooming, greenhouses are open and neighbors are planting their annuals. Nothing brings us out of our winter blahs faster than the scent of hyacinths and lilacs or the beauty of daffodils and tulips. Did you know that flowers serve more than just an aesthetic purpose? They also can improve our overall well-being.

Lilacs

Planting or keeping flowers around the home and in the workplace greatly reduces a person’s stress levels. Natural aesthetic beauty is soothing to people, and planting ornamental flowers around the home environment is an excellent way to lower levels of stress and anxiety. People who keep flowers in and around their home feel happier, less stressed, and more relaxed. As a result of the positive energy they derive from the environment, the chances of suffering from stress-related depression are decreased as well. Overall, adding flowers to your home or work environment reduces your perceived stress levels and makes you feel more relaxed, secure, and happy. Flowers can help you achieve a more optimistic outlook on your life; bringing you both pleasing visual stimulation and an increase in your perceived happiness.

Having plants, going for a walk in the park, or even looking at a landscape poster can produce psychological benefits, reduce stress, and improve concentration. Flowers cut from the garden add a pop of color to the living areas in the home. Bringing potted plants into your work space helps improve productivity, as well as an increase in creativity and job satisfaction.

Flowers

Don’t have a green thumb, struggling with some plants, or just beginning to plant?  Want some creative tips for new projects? The National Gardening Association has tons of information to help you out.  Allow the outdoors to bring out your natural beauty. Behold the powers of flowers!

Sources:

http://ellisonchair.tamu.edu/health-and-well-being-benefits-of-plants/#.VzyCdrgrK70

https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/urban-mindfulness/200903/plants-make-you-feel-better

www.garden.org

www.onegreenplanet.org

Written by:  Melissa Welker M.Ed., B.S., Family and Consumer Sciences Extension Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Fulton County, Maumee Valley EERA, welker.87@osu.edu

Reviewed by: Donna Green, Family & Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Erie County, Erie Basin EERA, green.308@osu.edu

 

 

 

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nutsThere are many people who will tell you that they have a food allergy when they might really have food sensitivity.

What is the difference?  While food allergies and food sensitivities can both leave you feeling terrible, a true food allergy can be fatal.

They may have similar symptoms – nausea, stomach pain, diarrhea and vomiting, but there are differences. Food allergies affect our immune system and affect the whole body, not just your stomach. Food sensitivity occurs when your body cannot properly digest a particular food. Food allergy symptoms usually come on suddenly, a small amount of the food can trigger the reaction, it happens every time you eat the food, and it can be life threatening. On the other hand, food sensitivities usually come on gradually, it may only cause symptoms when you eat a large amount of the food and is not life threatening.

There are some general differences between allergy and sensitivity.

Food Allergy symptoms:

  • Rash, hives or itchy skin
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain
  • Sudden drop in blood pressure, trouble swallowing or breathing – this is life-threatening and you should call 911.

Food Sensitivity symptoms:

  • Gas, cramps, or bloating
  • Heartburn
  • Headaches
  • Irritability or nervousness

There are eight common foods that cause 90% of food allergy reactions:  peanuts, tree nuts, fish, shellfish, milk, eggs, soy, and wheat. The two most common foods that cause sensitivity are lactose in milk and gluten although we can be sensitive to a wide variety of foods including some of the ones that cause allergies!seafood

 

How can you prevent or treat food allergies or sensitivities?  It is best to visit your doctor or health practitioner if you have experienced any of the above symptoms after eating.  Your doctor can do testing but may also recommend that you keep a food diary or stop eating some foods that you suspect may be causing the problems.

If you have a true food allergy, you will have to totally avoid the food. If it is food sensitivity, you may be able to eat small amounts of the food without causing a problem.

References:

Food Allergies. Clemson Cooperative Extension. http://www.clemson.edu/extension/hgic/food/nutrition/nutrition/special_needs/hgic4158.html

Food Allergies and Sensitivities. http://food.unl.edu/allergy/allergy-sensitivity

Food Allergy, or Something Else? http://www.webmd.com/allergies/foods-allergy-intolerance?

Written by:  Marilyn Rabe, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Franklin County.

Reviewed by:  Tammy Jones, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Pike County.

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The news that some communities have lead in their drinking water has led to confusion and fear that there may be other sources of potential lead exposure, especially to our children. Pchildarents need to become detectives and use their normal due diligence to prevent lead exposure from becoming a problem.Young children are most at risk because they tend to put everything in their mouth.

Why is lead such a danger to young children? It can cause lowered IQ, speech delays, hearing loss, learning disabilities, slowed or reduced growth, behavioral difficulties, brain damage, kidney damage, seizures, coma, and in some severe cases, even death.
Are your children in danger even if you know for certain you don’t have lead-based paint or water in your house or apartment? The short answer is–maybe. Many children’s products have been found to contain higher-than-safe levels of lead.

My one-year old granddaughter’s blood was tested recently and results showed a slightly elevated lead level. Her parents were sure they did not have lead-based paint in their home or lead in their water, so where was it coming from? Her doctor asked if she had been chewing on any sponge toys; unbeknownst to many of us some of them contain lead.

 
Since lead is invisible and has no smell, how can you tell if it’s in your home? Unfortunately, most home test kits are unreliable. Besides the sponge toy example, check out the following potential contaminants—you may find that you have some of these  in jewellery-1146720__180your home:
• Children’s jewelry
Children’s products made of vinyl or plastic, such as bibs, backpacks, car seats and lunch boxes, children’s caulk, or pool caulk
• Brightly painted toys (wooden, plastic or metal) imported from Pacific Rim countries (China in particular), especially non-name brand toys. Avoid if paint is peeliantique toyng or chipped.
Antique toys and lunch boxes with metal linings
Ceramic or pottery toys, dishes or cookware manufactured outside the U.S., especially if made in China, India, and Mexico
• Folk or home health remedies and certain cosmetics
• Candies from Mexico
• Artificial athletic fields made of nylon or a nylon and polyethylene blend can have unhealthy levels of lead dust

 
Items considered to be safe for children include:
• All toys manufactured in North American and European Union.
• Most plush toys
• Soy-based crayons or crayons made in the U.S.
• Books, DVDs and CDs.

 

What can you do?

• Check with your health care provider on whether your child should be tested for lead. Talk with your doctor about the results.
• Remove any possible lead containing items from your home. If you live in an older home (built before 1978) have the home inspected by a licensed lead inspector or check with the local health department on testing for lead paint.
• Clean up any lead dust if living in an older home.
• Remove items that may contain lead or lead-based paint, especially children’s jewelry and non-name brand toys made outside the U.S. Check the recall list for items that have been found to contain lead.
• Give your child healthy foods. Check out the OSU Chow Line article on “How Good Nutrition Can Combat Effects of Lead in Water”
• Practice good hygwash handsiene and wash your hands before eating and after playing outside or with pets.
• If you child plays on artificial athletic fields, check out this Mayo Clinic article on how to reduce exposure.
• Be cautious about items purchased at discount stores as most items are manufactured in China or other Pacific Rim countries.

 
Author: Pat Brinkman, Family and Consumer Science Educator, Ohio State University Extension

Reviewer: Donna Green, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension

References:
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2015). Lead Hazards in Some Holiday Toys and Toy Jewelry. Available at http://www.cdc.gov/features/leadintoys/index.html

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2015). Lead Poisoning. Available at http://www.cdc.gov/nceh/lead/tools/5things.pdf

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2015). Toys. Available at http://www.cdc.gov/nceh/lead/tips/toys.htm

Mayo Clinic Staff, (2015). Lead Poisoning, Available at http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/lead-poisoning/in-depth/lead-exposure/ART-20044627

Robertson, A. Lead in Toys: Could It Be Lurking in Your Home? Available at http://www.webmd.com/parenting/features/lead-in-toys-could-it-be-lurking-in-your-home

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February is Heart Health Month. According to the American Heart Association, 90% of all people will develop hypertension in their lifetime which is a major risk factor for heart disease. If cardiovascular disease does not kill, the consequences of expensive medications and operations can certainly affect one’s quality of life. Traditionally thought of as an “old age” disease, heart disease is also becoming prevalent in younger populations. This trend coincides with soaring obesity and diabetes rates, two risk factors for heart disease. Other major risk factors for heart disease include high cholesterol, smoking, poor eating habits, sedentary lifestyle and hypertension.

Hypertension or high blood pressure (higher than 140/90 mm Hg) causes the heart to work harder. Over time, hypertension strains the heart and arteries leading to disease.

Hypertension is more common in blacks than whites, old age, and those with a family history. Some “controllable” risk factors include sedentary lifestyle, obesity, and eating too much salt.

In order to reduce or avoid hypertension the American Heart Association recommends reducing sodium intake to less than 1500 mg a day (much less than a teaspoon). Unfortunately, sodium is pervasive in our food supply. Much of the sodium we consume has been added to food when it is commercially processed. The top sources of sodium in the American diet are breads, cold cuts and cured meats, pizza, poultry, soup and sandwiches. Most bread products are not very high in sodium per serving. However, given that we consume around three servings of grains per day, the totals add up. Therefore, label reading is an important skill when trying to reduce sodium intake. When reading labels, be vigilant for the words “soda”, “sodium”, and the symbol “Na.” Some sodium compounds besides salt (sodium chloride) to watch out for on food labels include: monosodium glutamate (MSG), baking soda (sodium bicarbonate), baking powder, disodium phosphate, sodium alginate, sodium nitrate, sodium sulfite, and sodium benzoate. Look for products that have 5% or less of the RDA for sodium per serving.

The OSU Factsheet Modifying a Recipe to Be Healthier offers some ways to cut back on sodium, but also fat, sugar and calories for better heart health. When preparing food, be “spicy” instead of “salty.” Be creative and adventurous! Use lemon juice, vinegar, and herbs and spices to enhance flavor. Many herb and spice containers will suggest what foods they will complement.

Some other tips for reducing sodium intake include:

  • Look for low sodium grain and bread products.
  • Eat more whole, unprocessed foods and less canned and convenience foods. Choose fresh and frozen fruits and vegetables as much as possible.
  • Avoid frozen vegetables with sauces as much as possible.
  • Canned vegetables can be risned to lower sodium content.
  • Limit condiments such as ketchup, mustard, horseradish, soy sauce, teriyaki sauce, and MSG, or use lower sodium versions.
  • Limit cured foods such as bacon and foods packed in brine (pickled food).
  • When eating out, ask that foods be prepared without added salt, MSG, or salt ingredients. Most restaurant dishes are extremely high in sodium.
  • Explore nutrition apps on your smart phone or computer to make healthy choices when eating out and grocery shopping.

Sources:

American Heart Association. Accessed on 1/21/2015 at http://sodiumbreakup.heart.org/sodium-411/

Ohio State University Extension: Ohioline. Modifying a Recipe to Be Healthier. Accessed on 1/21/2016 at http://ohioline.osu.edu/factsheet/HYG-5543

Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: App Reviews. Accessed on 12/21/2016 at http://www.eatrightpro.org/resources/media/trends-and-reviews/app-reviews

Author: Dan Remley, Assistant Professor, Field Specialist, Food, Nutrition, and Wellness Ohio State University Extension.

Reviewer: Shannon Carter, Extension Educator, Fairfield County, Ohio State University Extension.

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