Do you want to limit your intake of sodium but don’t know how?
Too much sodium in the diet can lead to high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease. On average, Americans consume 3,400 milligrams or more of sodium per day. The American Heart Association recommends that adults should consume no more than 2,300 milligrams of sodium per day, which equals 1 teaspoon. Adults with hypertension should consume less than 1,500 milligrams per day.
Cutting back to the recommended intake levels can help improve blood pressure levels. The majority of sodium we consume comes from processed, prepackaged and restaurant foods and not from the salt shaker. The primary sources of sodium are bread, sandwich meats, soups, pizza and pasta dishes.
To reduce the amount of sodium you eat and drink, follow these tips:
- Utilize the nutrition facts label to understand the amount in milligrams and the percent daily value of sodium in one serving of food. Choose foods with a lower-percent daily value. Twenty percent or more of the daily value is considered high, and 5 percent or less is low. Remember that the nutrition facts label displays one serving of a particular food. If you consume more than the recommended serving size, then you need to increase the milligrams accordingly.
- Buy foods labeled sodium free, low sodium, reduced sodium and no sodium added whenever possible. If purchasing canned goods, rinse them before consumption. Rinsing canned foods can remove about 30 percent of the sodium content. Look for canned foods in water instead of oil or broths.
- Limit processed and prepackaged foods, such as instant products, cereals, flavored rice and pasta. Limit pickled foods and condiments that are high in sodium, including soy sauce, steak sauce, salad dressings, relish, tartar sauce and ketchup. Limit foods labeled as broth, cured, pickled and smoked.
- Cook at home more often to control how much sodium is added to your food. Add herbs, spices, salt-free seasonings, citrus juices, vinegars and table wines to your dishes to increase flavor. If a recipe requires salt, try to reduce it by half or omit it entirely. However, do not remove salt from baked goods containing yeast.
- When eating out, ask for your meal to be prepared without adding sodium or little sodium. Some restaurants will provide you with their nutritional facts information. Look it over and then choose options that are low in sodium. Ask for all sauces and salad dressings to be served on the side.
- Remember to taste your food first before grabbing the salt shaker. Instead of salt, try using the pepper shaker first. When having high-sodium food, eat a smaller portion size or share with someone else.
A low-sodium diet is important to follow to control your blood pressure and to prevent cardiovascular disease.
The Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet is designed to help treat or prevent high blood pressure by eating a variety of nutrient-rich food. Learn more about reducing your sodium intake at Understanding the DASH Diet from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. Feb. 13 at the Lake County Extension Center. The cost of the program is $5 and includes materials and food samples. Register at https://fcslake.eventbrite.com or 352-343-4101 ext. 2721.
Mia Wilchcombe is the Family and Consumer Science Agent for the UF/IFAS Lake County Extension Center.