By Coach Miles
Are you over-consuming salt? Did you know that 90% of Americans eat more salt than the recommended 2,300 mg per day? That is the equivalent to about one teaspoon per day. In fact, the average American consumes an average of 3,400 mg per day, a full 1,100 mg more than the U.S Dietary Guidelines recommend.
Don’t get me wrong, salt makes food taste great, and a small amount is important in a healthy diet. But in excess, salt is linked to high blood pressure, a leading risk factor for heart disease, stroke, and other cardiovascular diseases.
Here are 5 things you can do to reduce your daily consumption:
- Read the Label – Most of the salt we eat comes from processed foods and restaurants. If you eat something that comes out of a bag, box, or can, read the nutrition information for sodium content. Chain restaurants are now required to provide the nutritional information about their menu items.
- Pay Attention to Serving Size – Serving sizes can be deceiving, and very small! For example, a can of soup often contains two servings. If each serving has 650 mg of sodium and you eat the whole can, you’d have consumed more than half of your daily sodium in one meal!
- Know Where Salt Lurks – Sodium goes by many different names. Read an ingredients list, and you may see it called salt, sea salt, monosodium glutamate (MSG), sodium alginate, sodium citrate, sodium hydroxide, and sodium phosphate. Salt usually hides within other ingredients as well like yeast extract, natural flavor, malt extract, malt flavoring, natural beef or chicken flavoring, seasoning, spices and anything called “extract,” especially in savory foods. MSG is an ingredient in many additives including hydrolyzed vegetable protein, hydrolyzed protein, hydrolyzed plant protein, sodium caseinate, and calcium caseinate.
- Choose “Low-Sodium” Foods – Look for the words “unsalted” or “low-sodium” on labels. These mean that the product has no salt or very little added salt. Avoid packaging that says “reduced-sodium.” That label only says that there is 25% less sodium than the original version, which is usually still too much. Just because something is low in salt doesn’t mean the product is good for you. Manufacturers often make up for the loss of flavor by adding sugar, fat, or additives.
- Salt is Not Just an Ingredient in Junk Food! – Even pantry staples can be high in sodium. Check the sodium content of jarred pasta sauces, lunch meats, cheese, condiments, canned beans and vegetables, broths and soups.
We have all been using MyFitnessPal to track our nutrient and macro intake. Sodium is one of those tracked nutrients. Take a look at your sodium intake over the past several days. Were you over your daily limit? If so, take some of these tips I’ve listed above to help you reduce your sodium levels.