Less is always best when it comes to sodium intake in our diet. The average American consumes about 3,400 milligrams of sodium a day when we really should be keeping the amount between 1,500 to 2,300 milligrams of day. Most of us are getting much more than we did and over time this can result in development of high blood pressure, water retention, and damage to the kidneys.
Ideally one teaspoon a day of salt or sodium is the goal but of course, that is very hard to determine when salt is used liberally within our food supply. Sodium is used frequently not only for flavor but also because it is a preservative. Sodium acts as a preservative by drawing water out of a food which reduces the chance of bacterial contamination and increases the shelf life of the food.
To help you reduce your sodium intake to a more reasonable amount, here are some tips to try today that can make a huge difference:
• Use fresh meat rather than packaged meats. Fresh cuts of beef, chicken, or fish will contain natural sodium but the content is much less than hidden extra sodium added during processing to meat products such as bacon, ham, sausage, pastrami, and lunch meats.
• Fresh or frozen fruits and vegetables will have significantly less sodium than canned versions. If you do buy canned produce, choose low sodium or rinse the food in a colander under cold running water to reduce sodium content.
• When buying frozen vegetables buy just the plain single vegetable and not the ones containing added seasoning or sauces.
• Label reading is a must to become familiar with the sodium content of foods. The sodium content is required on all nutrition facts labels. Choose foods containing no more than 250 milligrams of sodium per serving.
• Compare brands of the same food choosing the one with the lowest sodium content.
• Select spices or seasonings that do not list sodium on their labels. As an example, choose garlic powder over garlic salt.
• Some foods with a high sodium content may not taste salty such as cottage cheese. Always read the nutrition facts label to be certain of how much sodium it contains.
• Dining out can be a challenge when trying to avoid excess sodium. If the restaurant has a website, check the sodium content of various items offered and choose the lower sodium dishes. You can also always ask for a dish to be served without salt.
• Use herbs, spices, lemon juice, vinegar, or salt-free herb blends instead of salt in cooking.
• Use half the seasoning packet provided in boxed mixes.
• Cheese can be high in sodium. Compare different types of cheese. Processed cheese like American cheese, tends to be higher in sodium than natural or aged cheeses.
• Cook noodles, rice, pasta, and hot cereals without adding salt.
• Look for labels with the following terms:
• Sodium-free or salt-free
• Very low sodium
• Low sodium
• Reduced sodium or less sodium
• No added salt or unsalted
• Stay away from foods with ingredients or words like
• Brine or broth
• Cured, corned, pickled, or smoked
• Marinated or au jus
• Soy sauce, miso, or teriyaki
• Baking powder or baking soda