Keeping Sodium Levels Low Isnít So Easy

By , SparkPeople Blogger
I do a lot of cooking, and I try to pick recipes that are healthy and I think my family will enjoy.  Any time I make something that’s lower in sodium, I can tell right away.  My first instinct is to grab the salt shaker because I like salt.  But I’ve been trying to make a conscious effort to limit the salt I add to my food for a few reasons:  I want to set a good example for my kids, and I know that I already get too much salt in my diet without adding more.  A new report from the Centers for Disease Control says the majority of Americans consume too much salt in their diet.
The report says that 9 out of 10 people ages 2 and older eat more than the recommended amount of sodium each day.  What might surprise you is where the sodium is coming from.  It’s not chips and other salty snacks, but rather foods like bread (which can contain as much as 230 mg of sodium per slice).  If you eat a few pieces or more each day, those numbers can really add up.
For the average person with no health conditions or risk factors, the recommended limit is 2,300 milligrams of sodium daily.  For those with high blood pressure and other risk factors, it’s 1,500 milligrams per day.  The average American consumes about 3,300 milligrams of sodium per day, not including additional salt they add to their food.  If you’re not already aware of how much sodium you’re consuming daily, chances are it’s too much. 
“The report identified the top 10 sources of sodium in our diets, which include a lot of food we find tasty. These are, in order: breads and rolls, luncheon meats, pizza, poultry, soups, cheeseburgers and other sandwiches, cheese, pasta dishes, meat dishes such as meat loaf, and snack foods like potato chips and pretzels. These foods account for 44 percent of all the sodium we eat in a day.  About 65 percent of our total daily sodium comes from foods we buy at the store. But within some of the food categories, such as pizza, about 50 percent comes from foods we buy at restaurants and fast food outlets.”
Sodium is a mineral that occurs naturally in foods that you eat every day, including meats, nuts, grains, and dairy.  These can all be considered part of a healthy diet.  Since the majority of the sodium we consume is found in processed foods like crackers and lunchmeat, it’s important to read labels at the grocery store.  Can you pick a jar of spaghetti sauce that’s lower in sodium but tastes just as good?  Can you avoid or limit those foods that contribute the most sodium to your diet?  Eating a diet lower in processed foods but high in fruits and vegetables will help keep those sodium levels in check.
Looking for more easy ways to cut your sodium intake?  Find out the skinny on salt and learn how to use herbs and spices to spark up your food.
Do you try to watch your sodium intake?  Do you have any tips that might help others struggling with it? 

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Its funny that many of the same foods with hidden sugar are also the ones with hidden salt. Like everyone else has pointed out, the culprit is processed foods. Easy isn't worth it, besides once you learn how to cook some of these things you find that your own food is better, healthier, and doesn't really take all that much more time.

ps. I have spring fever and can't wait to plant my garden this year. Report
You have to know what you're putting into your body. I watch my sodium and still have a hard time staying within my range consistently. I do love my Trader Joe's sodium-free whole wheat bread. And my dark chocolate has almost none! Report
As others have pointed out, cutting back as much as possible on processed foods is the most effective means of limiting the consumption of hidden salt. I've found that it makes weight loss easier, too, and I'm certain there are many, many more health benefits. Report
Prepackaged foods are the worst offenders. If it's boxed or canned, the sodium can be OFF the charts. Working with fresh ingredients is the best way to fight sodium - takes longer, but the benefits are well worth it. Report
I have been trying to limit my sodium. I retain water when I have too much salt. What I would like to know is why do I crave salty snack/foods on the 2 nights before I weight in. I now track and plan snacks for every night to keep my sodium down. I don't always eat them, but I know they are there and I don't hit the Pop Chips, pretzels, or popcorn.
Another great reason to avoid processed foods. Even something simple like a can of black beans are really high in sodium. I buy a bag of beans, and make them myself. Same goes with homemade pizza/pasta sauces, soups, chili, etc. Once you have it down, it is really easy and does not take much time. And the sauces and soups I make more and freeze the extra. Report
Take a look at school lunch menus.
In January, in Bay County, Florida the sub sandwich and chef salad both had close to 1500 mg sodium.
How is that healthy ?? Report
Read labels! That is so crucial! Report
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