February 1, 2017

3 Ways to Slash the Salt for American Heart Month

Canned soup. Frozen vegetables in sauce. Sound healthy, right? These foods can pack a surprisingly salty punch. February is American Heart Month, just the time to focus on heart health and remember that salt can play a major role in the long-term health of your students’ cardiovascular health.

Risk factors for heart disease and stroke often begin in childhood. The unfortunate reality is that, according to the American Heart Association, children who eat high levels of sodium are about 35% more likely to have an elevated blood pressure ‒ a risk factor for heart disease ‒ than children who eat lower sodium diets. And the rate of high blood pressure is increasing in American children: More than 1 in 8 children aged 12-19 are at high risk for having (or already have) high blood pressure. In addition, about one in three American children are overweight or obese and childhood obesity is the No. 1 health concern that causes health-related problems such as high blood pressure.

The Healthy Schools Program can help you prioritize heart health this month through our easy-to-use trainings and resources, which you can access at your convenience. What are you waiting for?

Follow these steps and start planning heart-healthy meals for your students today:


1. Just say NO… to salt 

Do you have 10 minutes? Then you can watch this training and learn the risks of high-sodium diets – you might even pick up a few strategies to break your salt habit.

2. Become a salt detective

Sodium can hide in unexpected places. In this online course, learn how to decipher the Nutrition Facts Panel and steer clear of high-sodium foods.

3. Make a low-sodium swap

Browse the Alliance’s Smart Food Planner to find products that comply with the Smart Snacks in School nutrition standards and recipes that are kid-tested (like this hearty soup made with low-sodium beans from Miami Dade Public Schools!).


Don’t forget: you can assess your school’s current nutrition services and policies to learn more about what your school is already doing well and where you can make improvements.

Now you have the knowledge and tools you need to help your students start on a path to heart health! Still have questions? Just ask me in our School Nutrition online community.


Carol Chong is a National Nutrition Advisor at the Alliance for a Healthier Generation.