by Lisa Ronco, MS RD CDN
Don’t Pass the Salt Excessive salt can make your blood vessels and body tissues swell and fill with fluid. This puts an extra strain on your heart and can increase blood pressure.
We Americans consume more salt than we should… an average level of 3,300 milligrams (mg) per day (about 1.5 teaspoons). The current recommendation is to consume less than 2,400 milligrams (mg) of sodium a day. That equals 6 grams (about 1 teaspoon) of table salt a day. The 6 grams includes all salt and sodium consumed; including that used in cooking and at the table.
Adopting a low sodium diet for hypertension can reduce blood pressure. Combining a low sodium diet for hypertension with what’s known as the DASH diet (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) can reduce blood pressure by an amount similar to that seen with medication. Studies show that people consuming diets of 1,500 mg of sodium had even better blood pressure-lowering benefits. A low sodium diet for hypertension also can keep blood pressure from rising and help blood pressure medicines work more effectively.
Most sodium is consumed in the form of sodium chloride, which is table salt. Other forms of sodium are also found in food; so watch out for salt AND sodium. Kosher salt and sea salt are just that… salt. Don’t forget to include them when adding up your sodium intake for the day. Processed foods account for most of the sodium and salt consumed.
Tips to remember:
-Check food labels… sodium is in some foods you might not expect; such as soy sauce and some antacids.
-Buy fresh, plain frozen or canned “no salt added” vegetables.
-Use fresh poultry, fish and lean meat rather than canned or processed.
-Use fresh herbs and spices and salt-free seasoning blends in cooking and at the table.
-Choose “convenience” foods that are lower in sodium.
-Cut back on frozen dinners, pizzas, packaged mixes, canned soups or broths and salad dressings… these often have a lot of sodium.
- Cook rice, pasta and hot cereals without salt.
-Cut back on instant or flavored rice, pasta and cereal mixes, which usually have added salt.
-Rinse canned foods such as tuna to remove some of the sodium.
- When available buy low-sodium, reduced-sodium or no-salt added versions of foods.
-Choose ready-to-eat breakfast cereals that are low in sodium.
Following a low sodium diet is actually quite easy as long as you are mindful with the salt shaker and Read the Labels!
We have low sodium recipes at emealsforyou.com