Sodium is found in many of the foods we eat, and most of us get more of it than we need. This is because salt is already added to a lot of the foods we buy and dishes we order, and you may not even realize it.
It is used by food manufacturers and others who prepare foods as a preservative and to add flavor, cure meat, thicken sauces, and keep some foods moist. That’s why sodium is found in almost ALL of the processed and prepared foods we buy.
Healthy Sodium Intake
While we all need a little sodium to stay healthy, eating too much salt can lead to high blood pressure, which is also known as hypertension. High blood pressure can raise your risk of having a heart attack or stroke.
The good news is that cutting down on sodium can help lower your blood pressure or keep it at a healthy level.
The American Heart Association recommends that one should ideally consume no more than 1,500 mg of sodium per day for most adults. On average, however, Americans consume more than 3,400 mg of sodium each day.
If you are concerned about eating too little salt, don’t be. The body needs only a small amount of salt (around 200 milligrams per day) to function properly. That’s a mere smidgen — the amount in less than ¼ teaspoon. Very few people come close to eating less than that amount.
If you have a medical conditions or other special dietary needs or restrictions, you should follow the advice of a qualified healthcare professional. Talk with your primary care doctor about your sodium consumption.
Tips for Reducing Sodium Intake
You can lower the amount of salt you eat and drink with these tips:
- Check the nutrition facts label – Before you buy a food or drink, look for the amount of sodium on the Nutrition Facts label. Compare different options and choose the one with the lowest amount.
- Canned goods contain a large amount of sodium. When purchasing canned foods, select those labeled as “reduced sodium,” “low sodium,” or “no salt added.” Rinse regular canned foods to remove some salt.
- Reduce your consumption of processed foods that are considerably higher in sodium than fresh foods. Eat more home-prepared foods where you have more control over salt consumption.
- Use herbs and spices instead of salt when preparing food.
- Gradually reduce the amount of sodium in your foods. Your taste for salt will change over time.
- Removing your saltshaker from your table is another great way to ensure that excess salt is not consumed by you or your family.
As an alternative to salt, try using herbs and spices instead. There are so many flavorful spices out there, and this chart is a general guide to what spice pairs well with what dish. This chart is not all encompassing of every alternative to salt, so try your hand with different flavorings and see what you like!
The CHW Approved Spice Blend Salt Alternative
To make our special low-sodium spice blend, combine the following ingredients and load them into a shaker. Check out our April Community Health Corner to see us make this blend!
- 1 tbsp onion powder
- 1 ½ tsp basil
- 1 ½ tsp dry mustard
- ½ tsp chili powder
- ½ tsp ground celery seed
- ½ tsp paprika
Try this blend to spice up any dish!