Add veggies. Subtract sodium in soups. Use a squirt of lemon. These were among the winners in , the American Heart Association’s (AHA) first-ever #BreakUpWithSalt “hack” contest – an effort to generate tips, tricks or hacks for reducing sodium in processed and restaurant foods.

As a health organization dedicated to building healthier lives free of cardiovascular disease and stroke, the AHA created the #BreakUpWithSalt hack contest was created in support of its sodium reduction initiative, helping to motivate, inspire and educate American consumers to live healthier lives.

A diet with too much salt can lead to a wide range of cardiovascular problems including high blood pressure. Also known as “the silent killer,” high blood pressure is major risk factor for heart disease, the No. 1 killer of all Americans.

The creative individuals with the top three ideas will be awarded prizes and will have their winning tip, trick, or hack published on the AHA’s website ( as well as promoted on social media.

For the processed food category, first place has been awarded to Keltcie Delamar from Richmond, VA for her hack: When preparing processed foods at home, divide portions in half and add an equal amount of cooked veggies. It lessens the sodium and multiplies the vegetables.

“It works with almost any recipe,” said Delamar. “The family hasn’t even noticed.”

The second-place award in the processed food category goes to Catherine Callahan from Federal Way, WA for her hack: Use fresh herbs to add delicious flavor and aroma to low-sodium and no-salt-added processed foods. Many herbs can be easily and affordably grown at home in a pot or planter box.

Third place has been awarded to Anne-Marie Calderone from Monmouth Junction, NJ for her hack: Gradually switch to lower-sodium options to get used to the taste over time. For example, move to reduced sodium, then low sodium, then no-salt-added processed foods.

For the restaurant food category, first place has been awarded to Michelle Duke from Spokane, WA for her hack: Restaurants and foodservice can make small, stealthy changes that diners won’t notice, such as switching to lower sodium soup bases and canned ingredients.

“We were able to make small ‘hacks’ to our current inventory such as changing our soup bases from a regular sodium concentrate to low sodium or all natural reduced sodium,” said Duke, a foodservice director at a retirement community in Spokane. “We also changed some canned items to low salt or no added salt items without anyone noticing! Within four months we had converted over enough items to reduce sodium on campus by 8,827,414 milligrams!”

The second-place award in the restaurant food category goes to Leticia Orosco from Oklahoma City, OK for her hack: When eating out, ask for extra lemon or lime, no salt added, and seeds for seasoning (such as sesame, pumpkin or pine nuts) when possible. You can even keep a small lemon in your purse (just in case)! The juice brings out the natural flavor in foods and can replace dressing.

Third place has been awarded to Eileen Lepionka from Columbus, OH for her hack: Before dining out, go to the restaurant’s website to check for nutritional info, and choose the best options in advance. Bring your own low-sodium dressing or condiments with you.

All finalists and winning recipes follow the AHA’s nutrition criteria.