Sodium is important for your body. However, most Americans consume way more salt than their body’s ever need. Around 2,400 mg per day or a level teaspoon is enough to maintain a healthy body. Most consume more than this.
In your body, sodium plays an essential role in regulation of fluids and blood pressure. Many studies show that a high sodium intake is associated with higher blood pressure.
Most evidence suggests people at risk for high blood pressure can reduce their chances of developing this condition by reducing salt or sodium consumption.
An additional reason to reduce your salt intake is that it may increase calcium excretion, therefore, increasing your need for more calcium in your diet. Inadequate calcium consumption is already a health concern, especially for middle aged women.
Bottom line is that consuming less salt or sodium is not harmful regardless of any other associated risk factors. Here are some ideas for going about a reduction:
- Read the Nutrition Facts Label to determine the amount of sodium in the foods you purchase. Be aware that the sodium content of processed foods often varies widely, so especially take the time to read their labels.
- Request less salt in your meals when eating out or traveling.
- If you salt foods in cooking or at the table, add small amounts. Learn to use spices and herbs, rather than salt, to enhance the flavor of food.
- When planning meals, consider that fresh and most plain frozen vegetables are low in sodium.
- When selecting canned foods, select those prepared with reduced or no sodium.
- Remember that fresh fish, poultry, and meat are lower in sodium than most canned and processed ones.
- Choose foods lower in sodium content.
- Many frozen dinners, packaged mixes, canned soups, and salad dressings contain a considerable amount of sodium.
- Remember that condiments such as soy and many other sauces, pickles, and olives are high in sodium.
- Ketchup and mustard, when eaten in large amounts, can also contribute significant amounts of sodium to the diet. Choose lower sodium varieties.
- Choose fresh fruits and vegetables as a lower sodium alternative to salted snack foods.
Try to choose foods for regular consumption that are lower in sodium and salt. Your heart will love the lower blood pressure and your bones will enjoy the additional calcium that was otherwise lost in excretion.
Your taste buds will eventually adjust, perhaps to the point of no added salt ever. Salt shakers be gone!