Most consumers are aware that ingesting too much sodium contributes to health risks. But unfortunately, few realize the impact that excessive daily sodium intake causes the body long term.

Determining how much sodium one ingests is a bit tricky, especially if one’s diet is comprised of pre-packaged processed and restaurant foods. Salt is cheap and the American palette is accustomed to the taste sensations and bliss points salt creates.

However, what is little know is that when you eat more sodium than the kidneys can handle, the extra salt retains water and your blood volume increases, raising your blood pressure. Of course, high blood pressure can cause serious health problems and most of the time people are unaware, because there are no symptoms.

Despite the lack of symptoms real damage if occurring when you consume too much sodium. The facts are that when your blood pressure is too high, over time the extra pressure can make your vessels less elastic and more susceptible to buildup of fatty deposits called plaque. This can cause hardening of the arteries. Ultimately, the heart works harder and thereby puts you at risk for a heart attack or stroke.

Statistically, according to the Harvard School of Public Health, higher intake of salt can cause a 23 percent increase in the incidence of stroke and a 14 percent increase in heart disease. It is estimated that by the year 2020, heart disease will be the leading cause of death on the planet.

Heart disease is not just a man’s disease. In fact, heart disease kills more than 400,000 women a year, yet more than 40 percent of women don’t know it’s their leading health threat by far, according to a new study published in Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes. In comparison, breast cancer claims about 40,000 women’s lives each year, and lung cancer nearly 70,000.

Unfortunately, according to the CDC 80 million Americans have some form of heart disease. This is why more than half of the consumers are now choosing pure and simple foods that are being prepared at home to safeguard their health.

Education is key in helping people understand that food heals the body. Eating high quality fruits, vegetables, and lean protein prepared at home can add years to one’s life. Knowing what is in the food we eat is a huge step forward in safeguarding our health and well being.

Sodium can be controlled when one prepares their own meals. The antioxidant attributes of herbs and spices can greatly enhance the flavor and nutrient benefit of the food we eat.

The current craze for gourmet sea salts is a misleading marketing message, because ultimately sea salt and table salt are both sodium. And one of the keys to maintaining a heart-healthy diet is to control your sodium intake. Pink sea salt is still sodium, pretty pink or not.

Reducing your sodium intake is not as difficult as one might imagine, because by decreasing the amount of sodium will gradually adjust your taste buds. Ironically, once you have retained your palette, you will be surprised that restaurant and processed foods taste like nothing but salt. Salt-free blended spices have the capacity to meet dietary guidelines for sodium without sacrificing taste. It’s a delicious way to safeguarding your health.