How many times have you heard a friend or peer put down your guilty food pleasures because “that food has way too much sodium.” I’ll never forget when I ran into my pediatrician at the grocery store, in the freezer section, and I was grabbing one of my favorite boxes of frozen country-ham and egg white biscuit breakfast-sandwiches. Foolishly, I asked her opinion on this product as a breakfast option. As I bragged about the low sugar and high protein content, the first thing out of her mouth was an accusation about the scarily high amount of sodium these breakfast sandwiches had! Well, my bubble was burst.
Most people seem to watch carbs and sugar, as well as ensuring that foods have ample protein… and now we have to worry about sodium as well? It all seems pretty overwhelming.
Why Do You Need To Watch Your Sodium Intake?
The reason why sodium (or salt intake) is something worth monitoring is because too much sodium raises blood pressure which is a major risk for heart disease and stroke. The good news is that through lowering your salt intake, in as little as a few days, you can lower your blood pressure. So that sounds pretty doable.
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, here are the various ranges of normal to high sodium intake.
Tolerable Upper Level Amount: 2,300 mg sodium (daily)
Preferable Amount: 1,500 mg sodium (daily)
Minimum Daily Amount Our Body Needs: 180-500 mg
The scary fact is that in the U.S., today, the average daily sodium intake is at 3,436mg even in children as young as two years of age! Something has got to be done about this.
Individuals Who Need To Stay At 1,500mg of Sodium Or Less Per Day
- Individuals with diabetes
- Individuals with kidney disease
- African Americans
- Individuals 51 years of age or older
- Individuals who already have high blood pressure
How To Reduce Your Sodium Intake
- Eat more fruits and vegetables in place of processed foods like crackers and potato chips
- Cook from scratch more often and avoid ready-made soups and frozen pepperoni pizza *Unless they say ‘reduced sodium’ or ‘low sodium’
- Foods to be wary of: mayonnaise, canned tuna, salad dressings, jam, cereal, whole wheat bread and white bread, as well as pasta and rice.
You’re not alone on this journey to greater food awareness. In today’s world, we are always on the go and sometimes take great health sacrifices for the sake of fitting more things into our schedule. Take the challenge to becoming more “heart-healthy” and choose to allot yourself more time to cook at home with fresh ingredients. It will not only help lower your sodium intake and increase your heart health, but also lead to a greater, more fulfilling and longer lasting life!