When I hear nutrition experts say that Americans consume too much sodium, my first thought is always, “I wish Dad would stop adding so much salt to his meals!” Not because it insults my mother’s cooking, but because too much sodium in your diet raises your risk for high blood pressure and heart disease.
Then I became aware of an interesting fact. Only a small percentage of sodium comes from salt we add at the table. Almost 80% of the sodium in our diets is added by food manufacturers and restaurants during processing and cooking. Many of these foods pack a lot more sodium than we think. That means we could be eating dangerously high levels of sodium without picking up the salt shaker.
The recommended level of sodium intake for adults is between 1500-2300 mg per day. Here are some tips to lower the amount of sodium you take in:
- When grocery shopping, compare labels and choose items with lower sodium numbers.
- When buying frozen meals, compare sodium levels on the Nutrition Facts Label. Choose the items with the smallest numbers in sodium (less than 480 mg of sodium per serving is recommended).
- Choose fresh meats. Bacon, lunchmeats, sausage, ham and hot dogs are all high in sodium.
- Go fresh! Fresh and frozen vegetables have less sodium than canned vegetables.
- Look for products marked “no salt added” or “low sodium,” particularly bread, salad dressings and soup items.
- When eating out, ask for foods to be prepared without added salt.
- Prepare more meals at home. This way, you can control how much salt you put in your food.
By limiting our salt intake, we can reduce our risk for high blood pressure, heart disease and stroke. What do you do to lower your sodium intake?