There is no denying that most Americans eat far too much sodium. A diet rich in processed foods is also rich in sodium. Reducing sodium in your diet (regardless of age, ethnicity or family history) can assist you in lowering your blood pressure.
What exactly does low sodium mean? I generally consider a diet consisting of ~2400mg/day to be a great goal when aiming for a low sodium target. That being said, don’t get too excited and totally eliminate all the sodium in your diet. A recent meta-analysis (1) indicates that going below 1800 mg/day can actually raise your risk of dying. Of course, that makes sense as our bodies do need some sodium to help manage fluid levels, muscle contractions and nerve function (not to mention improving the taste of our food during aging).
So how much is 2400mg of sodium? Well, about 1 teaspoon, so not much. Here are some interesting facts (2) about sodium in the typical American diet:
- 77% of the sodium in our diet comes from processed foods
- 12% is naturally occurring
- 11% is added during cooking or baking
If you are working on meeting a target of 2400mg of sodium in your diet, a great way to get started is to eat more fresh foods (especially fruits and vegetables) and foods that are in season. These foods usually contain less sodium and are tastier!!
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Salt Image: Image courtesy of CarlosPorto / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
(1) Heart. 2013 Jan 24.
(2) Fast Facts from the FDA http://www.fda.gov/downloads/Food/ResourcesForYou/Consumers/UCM315471.pdf