By Dr. Donna Barton
Faculty Member, Public Health at American Public University
Dietary guidelines for 2015-2020 recommend a daily intake of sodium to be less than 2,300 milligrams. On average, American adults consume 3,400 milligrams per day.
There is a difference between sodium and salt. By definition, salt is made up of approximately 60% chloride and 40% sodium. A single teaspoon of salt equates to roughly 2,300 milligrams of sodium, which meets the maximum daily recommendation.
Sodium is found in just about all processed or pre-packaged food, and consumers must find a way to control their daily intake. People may not be aware of how much daily sodium they consume in their food or beverages, which can lead to serious health problems over time. Fresh fruits, yogurt, vegetables and grains are far more naturally lower in sodium than processed, pre-packaged meats and foods high in carbohydrates.
What are good starting points to control your sodium intake? Focus on changing one meal or snack each day for the next quarter and consider these ways to control your sodium intake:
- Eat fresh fruits, vegetables, grains, and potassium-rich foods to reduce your sodium intake.
- Stay hydrated. Increase your daily water intake from 91 ounces per day (women) to 125 ounces per day (men). Keep those kidneys working to reduce the sodium in your blood.
- Add moderate daily exercise, such as walking or yoga. Get away from a sedentary lifestyle.
- Adopt the habit of baking your food instead of frying it.
- Pass on the salt. Refrain from sprinkling salt on any dish.
It is a new season! Breakfast is an excellent starting point to introduce fresh fruits or grains into your diet. Cut back on traditional processed breakfast food items such as bacon, sausage, bread or juice. As you wean yourself from these items, you may notice a greater sensitivity to a salty taste if you bring sodium back into your diet.
Remember: reading food labels, using healthy food preparation methods or learning nutritional information about the food and beverages you consume are good ways to increase your awareness of your sodium intake and live a healthier lifestyle.
About the Author
Dr. Donna Barton earned her terminal degree from Walden University in 2014 from the School from Public Health with a concentration on Health Education. Dr. Barton’s research interests focus on health & wellness, chronic diseases affecting women’s health and cardiovascular disease.