Put down that salt shaker and check the amount of sodium in the prepared foods you buy.

That’s the message the American Heart Association is promoting during National No Salt Week, which begins Friday and runs through Oct. 10.

“The goal for No Salt Week is to ask people to remove the salt shakers from the table,” said Linzy Cotaya with the American Heart Association Louisiana, Greater Southeast Affiliate. “We are doing this for two reasons. The first is that we all need to reduce our sodium, and the second is that we are so quick to pick up the salt shaker that we are not enjoying the natural taste of foods.”

She added, “It is important to reduce salt in your diet because salt can raise blood pressure, leading to heart attacks and strokes.”

The American Heart Association recommends people consume less than 1,500 milligrams per day of sodium, “which is the level with the greatest effect on blood pressure.” It estimates that most people consume about 3,400 milligrams of sodium a day, or more than twice the recommended amount.

About 12 percent of the sodium we eat is from what occurs naturally in foods, it says.

More than 75 percent is added to foods during processing while the remaining amount comes from salt added during food preparation or at the table.

Pizza, canned soup, poultry, breads, cold cuts and sandwiches are among common foods that can add high levels of sodium to the diet.

“The biggest contributor to our sodium consumption is not the salt shaker. But it is a place to start by removing added salt,” Cotaya said.

The Greater Southeast Affiliate provided some low-sodium recipes for the home cook to try, including an easy-to-assemble Sunday pork roast with vegetables, a colorful corn and zucchini side dish and spinach quiche minimuffins that can be served as a snack or even for breakfast.