Sodium is present in our everyday foods and all of us have sodium deposits in our body, but the levels vary from person to person depending on his/her food habits. Some individuals have very high quantities of sodium but are not aware of the food culprits responsible for this. There are strong reasons to decrease your sodium intake and benefit from good health.
Recommended Sodium Levels
Salt is both good and bad depending on the quantity consumed. It helps to raise the boiling point of water, tenderizes meats and adds flavor to foods. Every tablespoon of table salt contains 2,300 milligrams of sodium, which is the daily recommended intake for most people as well.
Practically it is not possible to add such large amounts of sodium in one concentrated bite but can be only added up throughout the day. Only a percentage of the daily sodium intake comes from adding salt to food at the table.
Sodium is a part of many foods that we consume which can be harmful to our health. Lower sodium levels can decrease blood pressure and higher sodium levels can increase blood pressure. Consuming less than 2,300 milligrams of sodium every day along with a strict DASH diet plan which is low in sodium and fat helps to lower blood pressure levels. Interested individuals should take a look at the DASH diet at www.firsteatright.com to understand its features completely. Potassium is a primary component of the DASH diet and can be consumed in the form of potatoes, sweet potatoes, bananas, apricots, beans, milk, some fish, pork and yogurt.
There are Other Sources of Sodium Apart from Salt
Sodium is the best cost-effective way to add flavor and preserve foods. This mineral is not only a part of salty snacks or the table shakers but also present in already prepared foods and meals at restaurants and cafes and grab-and-go items at grocery stores. Too much consumption of foods with low to moderate sodium content can end up in high sodium levels. Breads, pizza, fresh and processed poultry, cold/cured meats, cheese, pasta, soups and sandwiches (including burgers) are the top contenders for increased sodium percentages.
Cutting down on processed food intake is a great way to limit sodium intake. The Nutrition Facts Panel and Daily Value of sodium are helpful indicators to prevent overconsumption of sodium. Concentrate more on fruits, vegetables, unsalted nuts, legumes and whole grains (brown rice, oats, barley, etc.)
Other effective ways to combat sodium intake include:
- Increase potassium intake by eating more of protein, dairy, fruits such as bananas and oranges, vegetables such as cooked kidney beans, baked potatoes, tomatoes, raw spinach and boiled okra, fat-free milk, roasted/skinless turkey and almonds.
- Keep a check on portion sizes when it comes to dairy, meat and processed starchy foods.
- Restrict consumption of cold cuts and sausages.
- Rinse canned foods.
- Snack on unsalted nuts instead of chips and crackers.
- Don’t keep the salt shakers at the table.
- Eat more of whole grains and low-sodium varieties of frozen entrees.
- Add more plant proteins such as legumes and decrease animal proteins.