We ALL know that we're eating too much sugar. It's in our processed foods, sodas, baked goods, and virtually everything else we love to consume.
But have you thought about your sodium intake? It's definitely harder than cutting out sugar, that's for sure.
Sodium versus Salt
Salt (also known by its chemical name, sodium chloride) is a crystal-like compound that is abundant in nature. Sodium is a mineral, and one of the chemical elements found in salt.
How much is too much?
The body needs only a small amount of sodium (less than 500 milligrams per day) to function properly: that's less than ¼ teaspoon. Americans eat on average about 3,400 mg of sodium per day!
The American Heart Association recommends no more than 2,300 mg a day... That's about 1 teaspoon of salt! An ideal limit would be no more than 1,500 mg per day for most adults.
How to reduce sodium intake
Did you know more than 70 percent of the sodium Americans eat comes from packaged, prepared and restaurant foods? Don't go rushing to blame table salt!
- Compare food labels for sodium levels. Choose products with the lowest amount of sodium (per serving) you can find. Different brands of the same food can have different sodium levels, so be vigilant.
- Pick fresh and frozen poultry that hasn’t been injected with a sodium solution. Look for terms like “broth,” “saline” or “sodium solution.” Sodium levels in unseasoned fresh meats are around 100 milligrams (mg) or less per 4-ounce serving.
- Choose reduced- or lower-sodium food items. The following condiments and sauces are often deceptively high in sodium: soy sauce, bottled salad dressings, dips, ketchup, jarred salsas, capers, mustard, pickles, olives, and relish.
- Drain and rinse. You can reduce sodium by up to 40 percent by draining and rinsing canned beans (like chickpeas, kidney beans, etc.) and vegetables.
- Combine lower-sodium versions of food with regular versions. Try combining them in equal parts with a regular version of the same food! You'll be consuming less sodium without a noticeable difference in flavor.
- Control portion sizes. When you reduce portion sizes, you typically reduce your total sodium intake. The easiest solution to controlling both portion sizes and sodium intake is through cooking at home. But, when you're at a restaurant, you can ask for smaller portion sizes or a to-go box to split your meal in half before you start!