The recently released 2010 Dietary Guidelines recommend that everyone, young or old, reduce sodium consumption. Although we need some sodium in our diet, almost everyone is consuming too much. Research has shown that the higher our sodium consumption the higher our blood pressure. Research also indicates that if we reduce our sodium intake the blood pressure level also decreases. By keeping your blood pressure in the normal range you reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease, congestive heart failure, and kidney disease.
To reduce your sodium intake you will need to use the Nutrition Facts label on foods and check the sodium content. Try to buy foods with sodium at 5% or less. If buying canned foods look for labels with “reduced sodium,” “low sodium” or “no salt added.” Check different brands as sodium levels can vary greatly. Rinsing your canned foods will also help remove some sodium. Most frozen entrées and cured meats also are high in sodium. However, just eating foods with moderate levels of sodium many times a day can quickly cause your sodium levels to be higher than you thought. Be cautious about yeast breads, chicken and chicken mixed dishes, pizza, and pasta and pasta dishes.
Don’t add salt (sodium) when cooking or eating. Try adding spices and herbs instead. Take the salt shaker off the table. Try preparing more foods at home from fresh ingredients. When eating out ask the restaurant not to add salt to your food.
Eating more potassium rich foods can also help lower blood pressure, and reduce your risk of developing kidney stones and decreased bone loss. Vegetables, fruits, beans, milk and milk products are good sources of potassium.