5 Tips to Reduce Sodium in Your Daily Diet
Every day, nine in 10 Americans eat too much sodium. The average person consumes 3,400 milligrams (mgs) daily— a staggering 1,100 mgs more than the US Food and Drug Administration recommends.
Sodium is an electrolyte that aids in the conduction of nerve impulses and muscle function. It also helps the body maintain a steady heartbeat and blood pressure. Although sodium is vital for our survival, too much of it can result in severe health complications.
“Because sodium attracts water, ingesting it in excess can lead to fluid retention, which increases blood pressure,” says Julia Ridenour, outpatient dietitian at Bronson Methodist Hospital. “When blood pressure becomes elevated, the heart has to work harder to move the extra fluid through the body. Over time, this can lead to heart disease.”
So where does this excess of sodium come from? Surprisingly, it’s not from the salt shaker we use at the dinner table. In fact, most high sodium foods are either from common processed foods or restaurant meals.
Check out the foods that are high in sodium and some less-salty options.
- Processed meats including frozen chicken, hot dogs, sausage, bacon, ham
- Boxed Macaroni and Cheese
- Fresh fruits/vegetables
- Whole grains
- Fresh, unprocessed meats (fish, chicken, beef, pork)
- “No salt added”/rinsed beans and legumes
- Low sodium/unsalted broth
Need an easy, heart healthy recipe?
Chicken Vegetable Soup
Chicken Vegetable Soup
1 Stalk celery, sliced
1 Carrot stick, sliced
1 Zucchini, sliced
¼ Head green cabbage, roughly chopped
¼ Head purple cabbage, roughly chopped
1 Cup kale, roughly chopped
1-2 Chicken breasts cubed (optional)
1-2 Tbsp of chopped garlic
1 Tbsp of Italian seasoning
4 Cups low sodium chicken broth
Set your electric pressure cooker to the soup setting, or cook for 8 hours in your crock pot.
Not a fan of going cold turkey and ditching your daily diet? Follow Julia’s five tips to help reduce your everyday sodium intake:
- Look at labels. Sodium can be hidden as part of an ingredient like sodium bicarbonate (baking soda), MSG, sodium benzoate (preservative) and many others. When possible, go for foods without these additives.
- Limit dairy. Stick to 2 to 3 servings of dairy products a day, which are naturally higher in sodium content.
- Dish it out. ¼ tsp. of salt = 575 mg of sodium. Measure into a small dish and use this to season your foods for the day. The goal is to use as little as possible.
- Prioritize your portions. Instead of eating two slices of pizza, pair one slice with a side salad. Smaller portions automatically reduce salt intake.
- Be smart when eating out. Don’t let a restaurant outing throw off your sodium game. Instead, ask your server for no salt to be added to your food. Also request for any sauces or condiments to come on the side.
Disclaimer: This article is intended for those eating a general diet. Anyone on a sodium restricted diet should refer to their doctor’s or dietitian’s guidelines.
Looking for nutritional support?
Connect with one of our registered dietitians who can create a eating plan tailored just for you. Talk to a Bronson food and diet expert by calling (269) 341-8800 or email them at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Bronson Heart & Vascular team is committed to heart and vascular disease prevention, and sharing easy steps you can take to live a healthier life. Looking for a Bronson doctor to help you? For a complete list of providers at Bronson, visit bronsonhealth.com/find-a-doctor or call Bronson HealthAnswers at (269) 341-7723.