Sodium. It’s not just in your salt shaker…
Sodium helps maintain the right balance of fluids in our bodies, influences the relaxation and contraction of muscles, and helps transmit nerve impulses. However, too much sodium can be quite harmful to our health. Surprisingly, most people eat too much sodium each and everyday without even realizing it. Most prepared and processed foods such as canned soups, vegetables, lunch meats, and frozen foods is where most of our unnecessary sodium comes from.
If you are a healthy adult, you should limit your daily sodium intake to between 1,500 and 2,300 milligrams (try to aim at the lower end of 1,500). However, if you have certain health conditions, such as high blood pressure you should avoid adding salt to your meals. Also, for your reference, please note that 1,500 mg of sodium equals about 4 grams, or 2/3 tsp of table salt.
Be sure to pay close attention to your food labels and you may be surprised at how much sodium is in the foods you eat and feed to your family. Many canned vegetables, boxed cereals, deli meat and low-fat soups surprisingly have a great deal of sodium. Experiment with Low-Sodium options of your favorite foods and you may surprise yourself by actually enjoying the taste without the bloat, puffiness and other side effects of sodium.
To Reduce Sodium in Your Diet:
- Flavor your food using herbs and spices, lemon juice and olive oil
- Sprinkle cinnamon atop of popcorn
- Try dry Salt-Free seasonings such as Mrs. Dash
- Rinse canned foods such as salmon and tuna to reduce sodium
- Purchase “No Salt Added”, “Sodium Free”, “Low Sodium” or “Very Low Sodium”
- Be cautious of foods labeled, “Reduced Sodium” or “Light Sodium” – the sodium content in these foods has only been decreased by 25-50% compared to the regular option
- Choose unsalted snacks such as crackers/rice cakes/pretzels, seeds and nuts
- Make sure to review the product labels for sodium content (especially in canned, frozen foods as well as condiments)
- Eat more fresh, un-processed, natural foods such as lean meats, fruits, vegetables, poultry, fish and unprocessed grains
Take a look at the sodium content of your favorite foods. You might be surprised to see your household staples containing loads of extra, unnecessary sodium. What foods have you noticed recently that are high in sodium?