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How much sodium should I have per day? 

Most health organizations recommend healthy adults consume between 1,500mg and 2,400mg of sodium a day. The effect of a high-sodium diet could be high blood pressure, which, in turn, can cause chronic and even life-threatening illnesses including heart disease and stroke.

Controlling the amount of sodium in your diet isn't as easy as switching from table salt to Mrs. Dash, unfortunately. (Although, that's a good way to start.) The majority of the sodium we intake comes from eating prepared or processed foods.

That means being vigilant about checking labels on packaged foods, especially canned goods, soups, lunchmeats and prepackaged meals. Your best bet at the supermarket is to purchase fresh fruits and vegetables and instead of buying pre-seasoned meats, season them yourself with lots of herbs so you can control the sodium but keep the flavor.

For more information on how to reduce your sodium intake, contact sports and lifestyle nutritionist Julie Fortenberry, LDN, RD, at 504.457.3100 at The Fitness Principle with Mackie Shilstone at East Jefferson General Hospital, or go to www.ejgh.org/thefitnessprinciple.

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