Did you know the body needs only a very small amount of sodium in the diet to function? According to the American Heart Association, that amount is less than 500 mg per day, which in cooking terms is about ¼ of a teaspoon. The reality, unfortunately, is that very few of us come close to keeping our sodium intake that low. Most people consume a lot more—a whopping 3,400 milligrams per day on average. What’s even scarier? 97% of Americans do not know, or seriously underestimate, their daily sodium intake. The newly released 2015 Dietary Guidelines recommend limiting our daily amount of sodium consumption to 2,300 mg or less per day.
The majority of sodium we consume in the diet is in the form of salt. Where is it hiding, you ask? Approximately 77% of sodium intake comes from restaurant meals, processed foods and prepackaged foods. To illustrate, fresh broccoli contains a mere 27 mg of sodium. However, if it’s processed into canned cream of broccoli soup, it shifts from 27 mg to 770 mg of sodium!
Which foods are the top sources of sodium? The list includes:
- Lunch Meats
- Sandwiches, including burgers
Here are five tips to help you limit your sodium intake:
*Read labels and make yourself aware of serving sizes. This can be a real eye opener when looking at the sodium content in many products sold at the grocery stores. Foods that contain 20% or more of the % Daily Value for sodium are considered high in sodium; 5% or less is considered low.
*At a restaurant, ask the chef or cook to prepare your food without salt.
*When shopping, choose fresh and/or less processed vegetables. If purchasing frozen, try to avoid added salts and sauces.
* Don’t put the salt shaker on the table. Even though salting at the table only accounts for about 6% of our total salt intake, every little bit helps.
* Use herbs and spices to flavor food instead of cooking with salt.
Sources: The American Heart Association http://sodiumbreakup.heart.org/
Written by: Susan Zie, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension – Wood County, firstname.lastname@example.org
Reviewed by: Donna Green, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extesnion- Erie County, Green.308.osu.edu