The daily recommendation for sodium is 2,300 milligrams a day for healthy adults- that's about 1 teaspoon. Since too much sodium can aggravate high blood pressure and kidney disease, people who suffer from these conditions should cap their salt intake to 1,500 milligrams or less. Sadly, many Americans take in closer to 4,700 milligrams per day.
Since much of the sodium in American's diets comes from processed foods, cooking fresh food at home can help you cut back on sodium dramatically. Use herbs and spices to boost flavor and always choose low-sodium versions of canned soups, broths and sauces.
How Much Salt is Too Much?
Salt is a valuable flavor enhancer and electrolyte that your body needs for muscle function, fluid balance, and nervous system health. Despite the need for some salt in the diet, many Americans go (way) overboard with diets that are too high in process and prepared foods.
So where does the majority of the slat in American's diets come from? Processed and prepared foods make up so close to 80 percent. So, it's not the extra sprinkle from the salt shaker or the pinches of salt use in home cooking- those only contribute to 6 percent and 5 percent, respectively. Check out the Center of Science in the Public Interest's list of worst offenders- steer clear of those foods and use our tips below to keep your slat intake in check.
Tips for Shaking the Salt Habit:
- Read labels carefully
- Cut back on processed foods, especially canned soups and prepared frozen entrees
- Cut back on take-out and restaurant foods- 1 to 2 times a week at the most
- If you use canned foods, choose low sodium and no salt added versions
- Measure out those "pinches" and "dashes" of salt while you're cooking- you'll know just how much you're adding
Dana Angela White, MS, RD, ATC