Sodium Intake and Your Risks

Are you worth your weight in salt? Change that!

Did you know that 1 in 4 people have hypertension or high blood pressure?  Not surprising when most folks are consuming 3500mg of sodium/day.   That’s more than 60% of the recommended intake.  Half these folks can reduce their hypertension risk by decreasing their sodium intake or table salt (aka sodium chloride).  Why is our sodium so high?  Most Americans are consuming their sodium intake through processed foods, ie snacks, soda, or microwavable meals.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention notes that over 400,000 deaths per year can be prevented through reducing your risk for hypertension by decreasing your salt intake!  You can even see the decrease in blood pressure within a few days or weeks with lowering your sodium intake.

Our body only needs 180-500mg/day — that’s it!  The Institute of Medicine recommends 1500 mg of sodium per day as the Adequate Intake level for most Americans, especially those at risk, and advises everyone to limit sodium intake to less than 2300 mg per day, the Tolerable Upper Limit.

2300mg of sodium is close to 1 teaspoon of salt, including what you cook and use at the table. BUT those with high blood pressure and risk factors are asked to follow the 1500mg/day guideline.  So how can we start by reducing our sodium?

Be a smart shopper:

  • Buy canned foods with “no added salt”
  • Buy fresh or frozen produce (fruits and vegetables)
  • Avoid high salt condiments such as soy sauce, or fermented foods (avoid pickles, etc..)
  • Read the labels for sodium content
  • Buy low or no salt soups
  • Avoid frozen meals high in sodium (toughie!)
  • Buy fresh or frozen protein sources verses canned or processed

Other tips for your diet include:

  • Use fresh herbs or no salt seasonings in meals
  • Love using garlic, onions, peppers to boost flavors
  • Think salsa (low sodium versions) or  hot sauce
  • Cut back on instant cereal, pasta, or rice mixes that have add salt

If you have high blood pressure or looking to reduce your risk, there is a DASH “Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension” diet out there for folks to meet their 1500mg/day recommendation for sodium.  Several studies show that it works.  That being said other life style changes such as reducing weight, quitting smoking, and increasing physical activity can help you control your high blood pressure, as well.

About Sharon M., MS RD

As a registered dietitian and a master gardener, I know the healing power of food. Nothing has given me more satisfaction than growing my own food. I have experience working in the public health field, including school districts. I have worked with pregnant moms, children, diabetics, and bariatric patients. I emphasis a plant-based, whole food diet. Yet, I appreciate the movement of eating sustainably, while hoping folks appreciate the bean as a source of protein. "To eat is a necessity, but to eat intelligently is an art." - Francois de La Rochefoucauld "Feeding is going well if both you and yor child are having a good time." -Ellyn Satter
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