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May 2022

How to Decrease Your Sodium Intake

Sodium is an essential nutrient mainly consumed as salt. The current Dietary Guidelines recommend limiting sodium to 2300 mg per day as part of a healthy eating pattern. Reducing sodium intake is a key part in preventing or managing high blood pressure to reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke, and even the risk of kidney disease. Try to identify the sodium in your diet and see how you can decrease it.

Where Is the Sodium Coming From?
Sodium occurs naturally in food, although most sodium in food is added.  It can be added during processing, when cooking, or at the table.

Most dietary sodium comes from processed foods and restaurant meals, not from the saltshaker you may use at the table. Sodium is in many foods, with some surprising sources that can add up quickly!

These six popular foods, identified by the American Heart Association, can add high levels of sodium to your diet.

To help identify where your sodium is coming from read the Nutrition Facts Label on products. Be sure to check the serving size since the information is based on that portion.

“The Salty-Six” - Foods to Minimize

1) Bread & Rolls   4) Cold Cuts & Cured Meats
2) Pizza   5) Soup
3) Sandwiches   6) Burritos & Tacos

Tips to Reduce Sodium Intake
Studies show salt is an acquired taste that can be modified. Although it may take some effort, here are some ways to cut back:

At the Grocery Store:

  • Buy fresh fruits, vegetables and whole grains that are naturally low in sodium. Frozen or canned vegetables are fine if they do not have any salt or sauce added.
  • Minimize packaged & processed foods. Choose “low, reduced or no salt added” when purchasing, if possible.
  • When buying prepared meals, look for those with less than 600 mg of sodium per meal.
  • Substitute processed meats with fresh. Limit cured and processed meats including ham, hot dogs, bacon and cold cuts.
  • Check the Nutrition Facts label to compare the sodium content.

At Home:

  • When cooking limit soy sauce, BBQ sauces, salad dressing, garlic salt, even lemon pepper.
  • Use herbs to spice up your meals!  Herbs and spices not only boost the flavor, but they can also add color and have a positive impact on health. Keep in mind, if you substitute fresh herbs with dried, use 1 part dried to 3 parts fresh.  A little goes a long way.
  • Include more fresh fruits and vegetables for snacks.

Dining Out:

  • Request food be prepared with no salt added, sauces and dressings on the side.
  • Check restaurant websites and posted nutrition information to determine high-sodium menu items.

Your health will benefit from even a modest reduction in salt intake.

Just 1 teaspoon of salt has 2325 mg of sodium!


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