Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Save Your Health and Your Pocketbook

Last week I looked at the high cost of being overweight or obese.  Today I’d like to brighten the news and give you some very doable changes you can make to keep more money in your bank account.  Let’s begin with the biggest money saver – lowering blood pressure. 
In July 2009 the American Journal of Health Prevention reported that that a 400 mg. reduction in daily sodium intake could save some 1.5 million people with uncontrolled hypertension (high blood pressure) over $1500 per year.  A 400 mg decrease in sodium is a very realistic goal.  Read the labels on canned soup, teriyaki and soy sauce, pickles, and even unsuspecting foods such as cottage cheese.  Look for reduced sodium versions of all kinds of foods in your supermarket and at    
If overweight or obesity is your concern, you may be pleased to know that the Journal reported that a 100 calorie reduction in food intake per day would save some 71 million people an estimated $815 a year.  Like sodium, there are many ways to accomplish a 100 calorie reduction.  Eliminating one chocolate covered Oreo gets you 115 fewer calories.  Substitute it with a regular Oreo and save half the calories.  Switch from regular beer to light beer to shave 40 calories off each serving, and eliminate one beer altogether to cut 140 calories on average.  Similarly, one glass of wine is about 120 calories and a can of soda is 150 calories.
Finally researchers looked at what lowering high cholesterol would save each of the almost 4 million people affected and found it was over $500 per year.  To accomplish these savings, this population would need to reduce their saturated fat intake 5 grams per day.  Saturated fat is found in animal products such as butter, milk, and meat.  An 8 ounce glass of whole milk has about 8 g of saturated fat, 2% has 5 g, 1% has 2 g and non-fat or skim milk has less than .5 g.  Choosing chicken (without the skin) or fish over sausage or bacon will result in similar reductions.  While 1 tablespoon of butter has 7 g of saturated fat, margarines have trans fat, another dietary hornet’s nest we won’t get into here.  Strive to cut your intake of both in half and your unhealthy fat intake will decrease accordingly.

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