According to the FDA, healthy adults should aim for less than 2400 mg of sodium per day. It’s very clear that the majority of us get way more than we need. In fact, 2400 mg of sodium per day is equal to only one teaspoon of salt!
Why do we need salt? Sodium is critical for maintaining the correct fluid and electrolyte balance within our bodies as well as helping muscles and nerves to work correctly. The challenge is, in today’s day of overly processed and packaged foods, we are getting too much of it altogether, and this may lead to high blood pressure and excess fluid retention.
So what’s the solution? How can you ensure that you are not exceeding your daily limit of sodium? The first step is reading food labels thoroughly and taking the time to tally up a day or two’s worth of sodium intake. This should give you a good benchmark of how much salt you are consuming on a regular basis. If you find you are taking in too much sodium, it’s time to cut back on processed and packaged foods. Even seemingly healthy items can be loaded in sodium.
In fact, the following list is made of high sodium foods that just may surprise you: packaged or canned soups, frozen dinners, deli meat, canned meats and fish, canned vegetables and beans, entrees with seasoning mixes (like mac n’ cheese or chili), Chinese or Asian food prepared with soy sauce, marinades, marinara sauces, dressings, teriyaki sauce, steak sauce, bbq sauce, Worcestershire sauce, ketchup, mustard, mayonnaise, relish, cold cereals, hot cereals, snack foods like chips, pretzels, crackers, seasoning salts, garlic salt and other spice combinations.
The best way to lower sodium intake is to reduce the amount of processed food items in your diet and work towards choosing more natural, less processed food items. Natural, unprocessed food like fresh chicken, eggs, meat, low fat dairy, fruit, vegetables, brown rice, sweet potatoes, olive oil, avocado and unsalted nuts are naturally low in sodium (not to mention very healthy!). For a complete list of low sodium, unprocessed food items, see the Highest Quality of Foods in your Quality of Food Chart, located in your online manual in your Help/Support Tab.
It also helps to reduce the amount of condiments like ketchup, mustard and other sauces throughout the day, as well as skip the salt shaker altogether. With a little awareness, along with some smart food choices, you can easily lower your sodium intake for a healthier you.
Head Chef and Lead Nutrition Coach
*high sodium food list fro pamf.org