Sodium is a mineral found naturally in wholesome unprocessed foods like vegetables, dairy products, fresh meats, and shellfish. The small amounts of salt found in these foods contribute to the small amount of sodium our bodies need for normal functioning. However, sodium is found abundantly in processed foods and fast foods. And, of course sodium is in table salt and various seasonings like garlic salt, seasoning salt, and others.
Eating too much sodium is strongly linked to the development of high blood pressure. For this reason, the American Heart Association (AHA) recommends we eat less than 1,500 mg/day of salt as part of the definition of ideal cardiovascular health. (Note: This recommendation for less than 1500 mg/day does not apply to people who lose large amounts of sodium in sweat, such as competitive athletes and workers exposed to extreme heat stress (for example, foundry workers and fire fighters), or to those directed otherwise by their healthcare provider.)
What is the amount of salt our body needs for normal functioning? Only about 500 mg per day. But, according to the AHA, the average American consumes about 3,400 mg of salt per day.
How do we lower our intake? Choose more fresh and natural foods, like fresh fruits and vegetables and lean unprocessed meats. If you are concerned about shelf-life and spoilage, buy frozen vegetables instead of canned. Limit frozen dinners and foods that have seasoning packets. Cut back on fast food, as most are very high in salt (see below). Buy unsalted nuts and crackers, and look for “No Added Salt” or “Low Sodium” versions of your favorite foods. Also, avoid adding salt to your foods. Use low or sodium free seasonings like garlic powder, onion powder, pepper, garlic, oregano, rosemary, Mrs. Dash, and many others. Most importantly:
Replace very high sodium items with lower salt alternatives.
Sausage Biscuit (1,080 mg)
Quarter Pounder with Cheese (1100 mg)
3 oz. Ham (1075 mg)
1 cup Rice a Roni chicken flavored rice (1060 mg)
1 Tbsp Soy Sauce (920 mg)
6 oz. Greek Yogurt and a Banana (67 mg)
Grilled Chicken Sandwich made at home (@350 mg)
3 oz. Salmon (50 mg)
1 cup Brown Rice (0 mg)
1 Tbsp. Less Sodium Soy Sauce (575 mg…..still too high)
What about Sea Salt? Sea Salt is currently very popular and trendy. The texture and flavor of sea salt make it very popular among chefs and the entire food industry. Many food products now say, “Made with Sea Salt.” Unfortunately, salt is salt. Replacing standard table salt with Sea Salt will not lower your sodium intake. You can find out if you are a candidate for surgery by clicking here.