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By now, I’m sure most of you know that the USDA has gradually been decreasing the recommended daily allowance of sodium over the past few years. As of 2010, the current recommendation for everyone, including adolescents over the age of 14, is preferably around 1500mg, but no more than 2,300mg (about 1 teaspoon) of sodium per day. However, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) most Americans currently consume about 50% more than that coming in at around 3400mg on average. What’s even scarier than that? Nearly half of adults fall into a category with an even more restrictive allowance less than 1500mg! What makes up those categories?
- You are 51 years of age or older.
- You are African American.
- You have high blood pressure.
- You have diabetes.
- You have chronic kidney disease.
Regardless of which category of sodium allowance recommendation one falls, it’s clear we all need to focus on cutting back given the average intake. So, what are some things we can do to limit our sodium intake? Here are a few ideas:
- Cut back on processed foods – I know it’s really easy to fall into habit of relying on convenience foods. After all, they are called “convenience” without reason. The problem with most convenience foods is that they are highly processed which generally means high sodium content. Read the labels! One of the best ways to do this is by eating fresh foods as much as possible.
- Eat home-prepared meals instead of eating out – Again, this is another one that can be a challenge with how busy we’ve all become, but it really does pay off in the long run. By preparing meals at home, we have more control over the ingredients used and how they are prepared. Restaurant meals are often full of not only salt, but fat as well which is a double-whammy when it comes to healthy eating.
- Use more herbs and spices when cooking – Many people rely solely on salt and pepper to season food when cooking. Try experimenting with adding more herbs and spices in place of using as much salt. It’s a great way to increase flavor without adding salt. Be sure to look for salt-free varieties when buying seasoning blends.
- Watch out for unsuspecting sources of hidden sodium – There are many foods that can be high in sodium that might come as a surprise. Always be sure to read the labels on foods like condiments, strong cheeses like gorgonzola, canned soups & vegetables, breakfast cereals, baked goods, etc.
- Look for low sodium options whenever possible – There are some foods like soy sauce, canned soups, etc. that can be ridiculously high in sodium. However, these days there are lots of low/lower sodium options available on the market. The lower sodium options are often still very high in sodium, so use sparingly.
As with anything on our journey to a healthier lifestyle, we need to educate ourselves to ensure we are making the best possible choices for ourselves and our families. Yes, it takes
forever a little extra time to read labels at the store, but it’s well worth it in the long run!
Do you have any other creative ways for reducing sodium? If so, please share them in a comment!
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