Tips for lowering one's sodium intake

Sunday, March 16, 2014

This year's theme for salt awareness week focuses on the need for clear and consistent nutrition labelling so consumers know how much sodium they are consuming each day and can choose foods with lower sodium.

A large amount of sodium increases your blood pressure, which is a leading risk factor for heart disease and stroke. Most of the sodium we eat -- more than 75 percent -- comes from packaged, processed, store-bought and restaurant foods (Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 2014).

According to the Center for Disease Control (2014) and Prevention "many people are surprised to learn that foods that seem healthy, such as low-fat deli turkey or light salad dressings, can be high in sodium. In fact, the top sources of sodium in the American diet are bread and rolls, cold cuts and cured meats and pizza."

The words "sodium" and "salt" are often used interchangeably, but they are not the same. Sodium is a component of salt and is measured in milligrams. Salt, usually measured in grams, contains 40 percent sodium and 60 percent chloride. In efforts to decrease your sodium intake, several accommodations can be adapted.

At the Grocery Store

Check Nutrition Facts labels while shopping to find the lowest sodium options of your favorite foods.

Limit purchases of processed foods high in sodium.

Talk with your grocer about stocking lower sodium food choices.

Eating Out

Ask your server for nutritional information, or check online before you go to find lower sodium options.

Ask the chef for no added salt in your meal. You can add some yourself if you find it is needed

Talk with the manager of your favorite restaurant about offering lower sodium food choices.

At Home

Eat a diet rich in fresh fruits and vegetables. You can opt for frozen or canned fruits and vegetables, but select no-salt-added varieties and packages without sauce.

Prepare more meals from fresh ingredients at home, where you can control added salt.

Get enough potassium each day. Potassium can help reduce the effect of sodium on blood pressure and is found in many foods, such as bananas, potatoes, beans, and dairy products.

Support initiatives that reduce sodium in foods sold in cafeterias and vending machines.

In reference to sodium intake, I would like to leave you with a lasting thought. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention estimates if everyone in the nation reduced their daily intake by 2,300 mg, the estimated effects would be: reduced cases of high blood pressure by 11 million and $18 billion saved in health care dollars each year. For more information, please feel free to contact your Health and Human Science Extension Educator at 653-8411.

Upcoming Events:

March 17 -- Putnam 4-H Enrollment Deadline for availability of all projects

March 28 -- Cover Crop Field Day -- Ewing Il

March 24 -- Fair Board meeting, 7:30 p.m., Fairgrounds

March 29 -- Breast Cancer Awareness events, 8 a.m.-12 p.m., 12 Central Square

April 3 -- Cover Crop Tour for Fruit and Vegetables Alto Pass Il

April 5 -- Garden fest -- Boone County Fairgrounds

April 9 -- Area Small Farm Clinic - Brazil

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