01 May How to Reduce Sodium in Your Diet
It should not be surprising to hear Americans consume too much sodium. The 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans published by the U.S. government recommends people consume less than 2,300 milligrams (mg) of sodium per day as part of a healthy diet. However, the majority of adults take in an average of 3,400 mg each day.
Contrary to what you may think, most of the sodium we ingest does not come from the salt shakers we have at home. Table salt is the term used for sodium chloride which is 40% sodium and 60% chloride. The sodium we sprinkle on our food or use in our cooking is not the problem when it comes to over use.
Sodium also occurs naturally in some foods such as celery, beets, and chicken. It is also added to processed foods and restaurant meals for preservation and to enhance flavor. It is sodium used as a food additive which is a concern and the reason why Americans are consuming too much of it.
Tips to Reduce Sodium
Sodium is essential to maintaining life by controlling the body’s fluid balance. However, consuming too much can lead to hypertension, heart disease, and stroke. Long-term, excessive salt causes fluid retention which can lead to inflammation in different organs of the body. Furthermore, salty foods tend to be higher in calories which can lead to obesity. Follow these tips for a healthier diet and lifestyle:
- Buy fresh, frozen, or canned vegetables with no salt or sauce added. Look for canned tuna or salmon with no salt added.
- Rinse vegetables and canned beans before eating or adding to recipes.
- Avoid deli cold cuts, bacon, and sausage.
- Stay away from frozen meals.
- Make your own soup. Most canned soups contain between 400 and 800 mg of sodium per cup.
- While you may not think of it has a salty food, most bread has sodium added to it during the production process. Just one slice of bread contains between 150 – 170 mg. Other similar products to avoid include pizza, pancake/baking mix, salty snacks, cereals, and baked goods.
- Reduce consumption of cheese and eggs
- Cut down on salad dressings, all condiments, sauces, and salsa. Drizzle olive oil and lemon on salads and vegetables. Both contain no salt and are natural and healthy flavor enhancers. Mix a tablespoon of Greek yogurt with robust spices (cumin, cayenne, black pepper, oregano) and lemon for a sandwich spread or dip for sliced vegetables.
- Buy unsalted or low salt nuts.
You certainly don’t need to eliminate all of these foods but be mindful of the hidden sources of sodium and try to reduce your consumption to aim for less than 2300 mg a day.
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