Nutrition Articles

Shakin' It Up with the Skinny on Salt

The Danger is Not in the Shaker

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The keys to watching our sodium levels are to be aware of which foods have a high sodium content and to limit how much of those foods we eat. Practice checking the nutrition facts labels of packaged foods for the exact sodium content per serving. Some label terms can help our purchase decisions:


Term

Means

sodium free or salt free less than 5 milligrams of sodium per serving
low sodium

140 milligrams or less of sodium per serving

reduced or less sodium at least 25% less sodium than the food’s standard serving
light sodium

50% less sodium than the food's standard serving

unsalted or no salt added

no salt added during processing, but could contain naturally occurring sodium


Steps to Reduce Your Sodium
  • Limit your use of the salt shaker. Try a shaker with smaller holes.
  • Substitute salt seasoning with other flavorings, such as onion, garlic, lemon, vinegar, black pepper, or parsley.
  • Choose fresh, frozen or canned vegetables without added salt.
  • Cook fresh or frozen fish, poultry and meat more often than canned or processed forms.
  • Compare the amounts of sodium in various brands of frozen dinners, packaged mixes, cereals, cheese, breads, salad dressings, soups and sauces. Sodium content varies widely among different brands.
  • Rinse canned beans and vegetables to remove added salt before cooking.
  • Choose foods labeled “low sodium,” “reduced sodium” or “sodium free.”
  • Know how much sodium is in your favorite condiments, especially soy sauce, steak sauce, ketchup and salsa. Limit your intake accordingly.
  • Avoid foods with MSG (monosodium glutamate), particularly when dining out. You can ask to have your meal prepared without MSG.
  • Try to limit your daily sodium intake to less than 2,300 milligrams.
One thing that the experts do agree on is that getting a balanced diet with more fruits and vegetables is more important than obsessing over one ingredient, like sodium. So it’s good to be mindful of how much sodium you’re taking in, but concentrate more on an overall nutritious diet.
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About The Author

Laura Bofinger Laura Bofinger
As a freelance writer, Laura uncovers some kind of inspiration every day when she writes about health and fitness.

Member Comments

  • Sodium is in almost everything except whole foods. I have been trying to cut back on it all year and it isn't easy. Reading labels has helped me a lot. - 3/8/2016 2:59:54 PM
  • Take a look at how much sodium the people of Japan eat. Then look at their rates of heart disease and high blood pressure. Then tell me again how dangerous salt is. (Pro tip: It's not the salt that's killing us.) - 1/21/2016 8:48:40 AM
  • ANDREWPANDA
    What shocks me is all the people who watch the sodium levels, but figure sea salt is OK. Sea salt is still sodium chloride and does the same amount of damage as regular salt if too mach is ingested. Plus according to the American Heart Association, the extra minerals are just in minuscule amount, and people will get them if they eat a well balanced diet. - 12/29/2015 4:52:35 PM
  • For the record, you can find pretzels that have fewer than 240 mg per ounce, if you read the labels; Bachman rods for example.
    - 11/16/2015 12:45:23 PM
  • Which brand of pretzels has 1,029 mg of sodium for 10 mini rounds? I've read a lot of pretzel bag labels and haven't seen one that is that high. Most are in the range of 350 to 450 mg. per ounce. Glad they are a limited snack in our house. - 11/16/2015 12:44:12 PM
  • Without looking at more than 2 pages, I assume that someone has already pointed out that USDA recommends 2300 mg maximum. Probably this article should be either amended or stricken. There are enough internet articles claiming that 2300 is too low. - 11/13/2014 9:29:56 AM
  • I always thought lowering salt consumption was good for everyone, but found out it caused nearly fatal problems for me. I have low blood pressure (as do my two children) and the lack of salt was causing me to black out several times a day. My doctor told me to be free with the salt shaker and make sure I never get dehydrated. - 2/18/2014 11:39:15 AM
  • I retain water very easily, so I do my best to keep my salt intake under 2,300 mg daily. It's hard, but if I have too much salt, my feet and ankles immediately balloon up. Now I use minimal salt when cooking and use other seasonings, as well as steering clear of sodium laden prepared foods. - 1/28/2014 7:13:42 PM
  • Great Article. Thanks for the salt kick. - 12/6/2013 4:50:43 PM
  • While I find it somewhat difficult to attain a lower consumption of salt its also important to note most of us DO NOT get enough calcium or POTASSIUM in our diets which tend to alleviate some of sodium's bad effects. - 11/14/2013 9:17:25 PM
  • I find all of these comments very helpful. I have switched to Sea Salt for my table and sometimes cooking. Usually I use Lawrys seasoning salt for better flavor with foods and I find I use way less to season with because it has other seasonings to enhance the flavor. An added plus is that it has less salt per serving than traditional salt.
    And I am not surprised they use tons of salt in sweet foods. That's how they addict you with the sugar and salty boosts you get from them. Yep , my big behind knows all about that. (Insert disgusted eye roll here) Now I am paying in spades trying to reverse the bad effects of that. - 6/21/2013 4:21:56 PM
  • When I leveled out in my weight loss, I wondered why I wasn't losing and noticed my sodium was on average 4000 mg per day on my reports. Started keeping track and now strive to keep it under 2300 mg. In 2 weeks I dropped 17 lbs! In 3 weeks my BP went from 171/101 to 162/82 and lost a total of 24 lbs.
    It is worth obsessing over! - 2/22/2013 10:08:11 AM
  • Thank you for th-is insightful reminder that the danger is not necessarily in the shaker.

    God bless!

    - 11/15/2012 3:30:27 PM
  • I've always watched my sodium intake; I've always been a label reader. - 11/15/2012 12:33:23 PM
  • My hypertension was from menopause and not from sodium.

    Be careful if you go the lite salt way, they usually have a high concentration of potassium which is not healthy either.

    I think if you are one of those that has heart or kidney problems, it's very important to cut down (or out) the processed food it has too many hidden everythings. I like a little salt and pepper on some things, but I've noticed if you buy the gourmet salts you tend to use less for more flavour. - 11/15/2012 3:54:40 AM

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