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Most Americans need to lower their sodium intake. The American Heart Association recommends no more than 1,500 mg of sodium per day; however, the current national average daily intake far exceeds the recommendation. The national average intake is about 3,400mg sodium per day. So, where is the salt intake coming from?  Processed foods contain the majority (77%) of the salt we consume. This chart breaks down the different food categories, showing a clearer picture of where the majority of Americans are getting their sodium from on a daily basis. It is surprising how much sodium we get from yeast breads, which is something that many people would not think about when asked to name a high sodium food.

sodium graph

Fast food items are frequently high in sodium. It is reported that only 6% of the sodium that Americans consume comes from salt added at the table and 5% is added during cooking time.  According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, a large amount of the sodium Americans get in the diet comes from only 10 types of foods. These 10 foods are

  1. Breads & rolls
  2. Cold cuts and cured meats
  3. Pizza
  4. Fresh and processed chicken and turkey
  5. Soups
  6. Sandwiches
  7. Cheese
  8. Pasta dishes with sauce
  9. Mixed meat dishes, such as meat loaf with sauce
  10. Snacks such as chips, pretzels and popcorn

When we look at this list of the 10 types of foods, it is evident that many of the items are heavily processed.

Here are 4 tips to help you cut out sodium:

  1. Make more meals from scratch.  One of the best things one can do to cut back on sodium is to prepare more meals from scratch, vs. relying on prepackaged processed foods.
  2. Use herbs and spices for added flavor instead of salt.
  3. Eat more fresh veggies.  If fresh vegetables are not in season or if the price is too high, canned varieties are a good substitute; but be careful on sodium intake.  Rinse canned vegetables thoroughly before cooking or consuming. This will cut the sodium, and they will still have a good taste.
  4. Stay hydrated every day. By drinking proper amounts of fluid, sodium can be flushed out of the body, as long as the kidneys are working properly.

If you would like to read more about strategies for eating less sodium, I would highly recommend American Heart Association’s new book, Eat Less Salt.  Check out the link for this book: http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/General/American-Heart-Association-Eat-Less-Salt-Sample-Recipes_UCM_452096_Article.jsp#

Written by:  Susan Zies, Extension Educator, FCS, Wood County, Erie Basin EERA

Reviewed by:  Cheryl Barber Spires, RD LD, Program Specialist, SNAP-Ed, West Region

Source:

“Sodium, Salt and Our Food Supply.” Eat Less Salt: An Easy Action Plan for Finding and Reducing the Sodium Hidden in Your Diet with 60 Heart-healthy Recipes. New York: Clarkson Potter/Publishers, 2013. N. pag. Print

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