How to Reduce Your Sodium Intake

Sodium and sodium chloride – known commonly as salt – occur naturally in foods, usually in small amounts. Salt and other sodium-containing ingredients are often used in food processing. Some people add salt and salty sauces, such as soy sauce, to their food at the table, but most dietary sodium or salt comes from foods to which salt has already been added during processing or preparation. Although many people add salt to enhance the taste of foods, their preference may weaken with eating less salt.

Are you watching your sodium intake? Look out for most processed and frozen foods. They’re packed with the stuff. As a rule, nutritionists say you shouldn’t have more than 200 milligrams per 100 calories of food. Sodium is a mineral found in your body and the foods you eat. Manufacturers often use sodium when processing foods. At home, you probably use salt, which is a combination of sodium and chloride. Your body uses sodium to produce muscle contractions, maintain fluid balance, conduct nerve impulses, and carry nutrients to cells.

Sodium is essential, but you don’t need much to survive. A low-sodium or sodium-restricted diet is one that limits the amount of sodium you consume. There are now many ways a person can reduce salt in their diet. Most food packages will tell how much sodium is in a serving. A healthy diet can have 2 to 3 grams of sodium per day, unless a doctor recommends even lower amounts. This is 1 to 1 and one half teaspoons of table salt. Fresh fruits, vegetables and meats contain very little sodium and can be eaten often as long as salt is not added in cooking.

There are a number of spices you can use to flavor food that do not have salt in them. Lemon or lime juice and vinegar can help brighten up the taste of foods without adding sodium. Lastly, there are now many low-salt or reduced salt products at your market. These can be substituted for high sodium products.

Tips for sodium restriction

To help cut back the amount of sodium in your diet, consider the following suggestions:

âÂ?¢ Don’t salt food before tasting or simply out of habit.
� When cooking, use salt sparingly, if at all.
� Remove the salt shaker from your table.
� Read food labels, and choose foods high in sodium less often.
� Eat more fresh fruits and vegetables rather than the canned variety.
âÂ?¢ If you eat canned vegetables, choose the “no salt added” variety.
� When possible, choose fresh foods instead of processed foods.

When eating out, it is very important to watch portion sizes. Restaurant portions are often larger than serving sizes you prepare at home, so don’t feel that you have to eat the whole thing. In fact, start by cutting your portions in half. Eat one half at the restaurant and ask for a takeout container to enjoy the other half later.

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