Sodium and Your Health
February 1, 2024
Most people eat too much sodium. It is important to remember your body requires a small amount of this mineral, but in excess it can have negative consequences. Sodium can increase your blood pressure, your risk of stroke, and heart disease. Making a conscious effort to cut back on your sodium intake makes your heart health a priority.
Is it Salt or Sodium?
Sodium is a mineral and comes in many forms. Typically, in foods including MSG, baking soda, and preservatives. Salt is sodium chloride, 40% sodium and 60% chloride. There is about 2,400 mg of sodium in one teaspoon of table salt. The federal recommendation of daily sodium intake as part of a healthy eating pattern encourages consuming less than 2,300 mg of sodium daily. The typicl American diet surpasses this guidance greatly.
Sodium in Your Food Adds Up
Most Sodium comes from processed foods and restaurant foods.
The Top 10 Sources of Sodium for the general population are:
- Breads and rolls
- Cold cuts and cured meats
- Burritos and tacos
- Savory snacks (chips, popcorn, pretzels, snack mixes, and crackers)
- Eggs and omelets
Knowledge is Power
Knowing which foods are the biggest contributors to sodium in your diet is an important step to bringing daily sodium intake to a healthy level. To figure out the amount of sodium in a food, check the Nutrition Facts label, which lists sodium content per serving. Sodium content is listed in milligrams (mg).
At the Grocery Store
Fresh whole foods are always the way to go! Look for frozen or canned vegetables with no salt or sauce added. If buying packaged foods, choose “low sodium”, “reduced sodium”, and “no salt added” when available. Read your nutrition facts labels and compare foods. When you are reading the label make sure to check the amount of sodium per serving and how many servings per container.
Pick fresh poultry, fish, pork, and lean meat, rather than cured, salted, smoked, and other processed meats. Even in fresh items, check to see if saline or salt solution has been added, if so, look for another option.
Spice up your foods with garlic, citrus juice, and salt-free seasonings. Make rice, pasta, beans and meats from their dry and fresh forms instead of processed or packaged. Keep focused and your sodium in check by packing your diet with fresh fruits and vegetables!