Shake the Salt Habit
When it comes to sodium, what is the first thing you think of? If you’re like most Americans, you think of the salt shaker. But sodium is a great preservative, and on average, more than 90 percent of the sodium we eat comes from processed foods and prepared meals eaten away from home.
Contrary to popular belief sodium is not an “evil” mineral. It is essential in our bodies for the conduction of electrical signals in our nervous system, and the regulation of extracellular fluid so nutrients can reach your cells. It is when we consume too much sodium that we see harmful side effects like hypertension, kidney complications, and decreased bone density.
You are probably thinking to yourself, “How much sodium should I have, and how much is too much?” The USDA’s Dietary Guidelines for Americans suggests we limit our daily intake to 2,300 mg or less – about 1 teaspoon of salt per day. However, if you are over 50, African American, or have hypertension, diabetes, or chronic kidney disease you should consume 1,500 mg or less.
7 Surefire Tips to Shake the Salt Shaker Addiction
- Ditch the salt shaker while cooking and at meals and try new salt-free seasonings such as lemon-pepper or garden herbs.
- Eat more fresh fruits and vegetables – these are naturally low in sodium. Frozen is fine, but watch for added sauces – be an active label reader!
- Buy “low-sodium” products, these have less than 140 mg of sodium per serving.
- Cut back on pre-made meals, like frozen meals and pizzas.
- Prepare as much food as you can in your home – don’t leave your health in someone else’s hands.
- Be aware of the condiments you are using – sodium is not just found in soy sauce.
- When at a restaurant, request to have salt omitted from your meal, most chefs will do this for you.
So, to limit your intake of sodium, remember to think “outside the shaker.”