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What’s the Big Deal with Sodium?

What’s the Big Deal with Sodium?

Increased sodium intake is associated with high blood pressure and increased risk for heart attack, stroke and kidney failure.

Sodium is a mineral that is found in nature and therefore found naturally in some foods, but sodium is also added to almost all foods that are processed to enhance flavor, maintain freshness, or perform some other function related to food quality.

While our bodies do need sodium to function, we only need about 800mg a day, which we can get very easily from food. About 90% of Americans (over the age of 2) consume more sodium than our bodies need and more than 70% of that sodium comes from restaurant and processed foods.

What is the recommended daily intake for sodium to stay healthy?

  • Most adults and children over the age of 14 should limit daily sodium intake to 2300 mg per day.
  • Anyone with high blood pressure should further limit daily sodium intake to 1500 mg per day.

Ways to consume less sodium:

  • Cook at home more often. Eat out less.
  • Limit food from fast food restaurants. If you have to eat fast food, make healthy choices by including fresh fruits and vegetables as part of your meal and limiting condiments like sauces, dressing, bacon and cheese.
  • Season food with salt free seasonings like lemon juice, garlic, black pepper, fresh or dried herbs and spices instead of salt or a seasoning blend with salt.
  • Eat more fresh foods versus processed foods.
  • If you do buy processed foods, look for foods that are labeled low-sodium, reduced sodium or no-salt-added.
  • Read labels and compare products when grocery shopping.
  • Take the salt shaker off the table!