Consuming too much sodium increases blood pressure and damages your arteries. The average American consumes more than double the amount of recommended sodium.
- About 80% of the excess sodium in our diets comes from processed and restaurant foods, not the saltshaker on your table. Some restaurant and fast food meals contain more than a day’s worth of recommended sodium!
- Current recommendations are to limit sodium intake to less than 2,300 mg for teens and adults up to age 50.
- For high risk groups – adults over 50, African Americans, and those with high blood pressure, diabetes, or chronic kidney disease, sodium should be limited to 1,500 mg a day.
- To have success with maintaining a healthy sodium intake, you MUST limit your intake of processed foods, fast foods, and dining out. The less, the better.
- Check food labels. A useful guide is to avoid foods that contain more than 100 mg of sodium per 100 calories of food. Foods containing 480 mg or more of sodium per serving are considered “high sodium” foods. These should be avoided!
- The foods that are the most notoriously high in sodium include: packaged deli meats, processed cheeses, pizza, processed meats (bacon, sausage, ham, etc.), condiments, canned soups, bottled salad dressings, canned vegetables, frozen dinners, salty snack foods (chips, pretzels, crackers, etc.), bottled tomato sauces, and sandwich breads. Consume these foods sparingly if at all or look for reduced sodium varieties.
- If you consume processed foods (which I hope you do not!), look for reduced or low-sodium varieties of processed foods. There is a growing availability of reduced sodium offerings for canned vegetables and beans, condiments, soups, luncheon meats and cheeses. Look for them.
- Prepare your own meals from whole foods and limit how much salt you add. Use more herbs and spices, lemon juice, or vinegar to add flavor while cutting down on salt. Herbs and spices are exploding with heart-healthy beneficial plant compounds.
- When and if you feel you need to add salt to your meals or dishes to make them palatable, use kosher or sea salt flakes. Both have significantly less sodium per teaspoon than standard table salt in addition to providing a more robust “salty” flavor. So you can get away with adding less salt for equal or even better flavor.
- When and if you feel you need to add salt to your meals or dishes to make them palatable, use kosher or sea salt flakes sparingly. Both have significantly less sodium per teaspoon than standard table salt, in addition to providing a more robust “salty” flavor. So you can get away with adding less salt for equal or even better flavor.
- To replace salt in your meals and dishes, try convenient herb and spice blends like Mrs. Dash. Many different flavor varieties are now available in this line of healthy salt substitutes.
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