Decreasing Sodium in Our Diets

The average American consumes about 3400 mg of sodium a day.  Healthy adults and people with diabetes need to keep their daily sodium intake to no more than 2300 mg per day, and for those with high blood pressure, congestive heart failure, cirrhosis of the liver, and kidney disease the recommended amount is 1500 mg or less.  Just one teaspoon of table salt contains 2300 mg of sodium.

Cutting that much sodium from our diets can be extremely difficult.  Most of the foods we buy are highly processed and contain a lot of sodium.

One solution is to purchase unprocessed whole foods and prepare your meals from scratch.  Salt can be replaced with other spices to give your food flavor.  About 75% of the sodium Americans consume comes from processed foods.  Most canned foods contain a significant amount of sodium.  It is preferable to buy fresh fruits and vegetables and dried beans, peas, and legumes.  If you must used canned goods, drain and rinse them before using.

Check labels when you are shopping and look for brands with the lowest sodium content.  Prepared mixes for pasta and rice generally contain a lot of sodium.  They are easy to make from scratch without salt.  All pickled foods are also high in sodium.  One pickle can contain as much as 500 mg!  Condiments are another culprit.  Even reduced sodium soy sauce can contain as much as 700 mg in a single tablespoon.  Many condiments such as salad dressing can be homemade.  Making your own sauces is also easy.  Spaghetti and marinara sauces made from scratch are delicious.

Limit , or eliminate, the amount of processed meats that you eat.  Sausage, bacon, and hot dogs are extremely high in sodium and fats.  Deli meats should also be limited.  Instead choose fresh organic fish or lean meats, or plant based proteins.

While your body needs some sodium to function properly, just like anything else moderation is the key.  Many foods naturally contain a small amount of sodium.  For example, an apple has approximately one mg.

If you wish to cut back on your salt intake, gradually decrease the amount that you use in cooking.  Most recipes, except for baked goods, will not be affected by omitting the salt.  Over time you can retrain your taste buds, and eventually you will find that many processed foods will taste too salty to you.  Instead of sprinkling table salt on your food, try using other spices instead.  Your meals will still be tasty, and much healthier.


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