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Sodium Guidelines

When it comes to sodium many are in a quandary regarding what guidelines to follow. Hopefully this will help explain some of the guidelines.

The main source of sodium is table salt. The average American eats 5 or more teaspoons of salt per day. This is approximately 20 times more than the body needs. How much sodium does your body require on a daily basis…1/4 teaspoon. Not much.

Sodium is found naturally in many foods but is usually added in the preparation and processing of the food. Sodium controls the fluid balance in our bodies and maintains blood volume and blood pressure. Eating too much sodium can raise blood pressure and cause your body to retain fluid in turn causing swelling of the legs and ankles. That increased volume in your body makes the heart work harder. Too much sodium will increase your risk of stroke, heart failure, osteoporosis, stomach cancer and kidney disease.

The average American will consume about 3,400mg of sodium per day. The recommended amount of sodium for a healthy individual is 2,300mg per day. For anyone with high blood pressure, diabetes, African Americans, or anyone over the age of 51 the recommendation sodium intake per day is 1,500mg. There is research indicating if everyone reduced their sodium intake the rate of heart disease would drop a great deal in this country.

So, let’s look at sodium intake of a typical person eating three meals in a day. These are approximate numbers:

Breakfast – cereal with milk = 250mg

Lunch – cup of soup with a turkey sandwich = 2,200mg

Dinner – slice of pizza, salad with a light dressing = 710mg

Grand total for just the three meals = 3,160mg of sodium

What to do:

  1. Eat more fresh fruit and vegetables

  2. When eating frozen or canned foods buy no salt or low sodium.

  3. Season with spices, fresh lemon, herbs

  4. Eat out less

  5. When you do eat out ask server if your food can be prepared without salt.

Give yourself time once you remove the salt from your diet for your taste buds to adapt and you will find you’ll start enjoying the taste of food more.

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