Moving Beyond the Salt Shaker

Do you ever find yourself asking whether you should focus on reducing sodium or salt?  We hear many different messages about reducing the amount of sodium, salt, and sodium containing ingredients in the foods we eat.  Surprisingly, 70 percent of the sodium Americans consume comes from packaged and restaurant foods, not the salt shaker.

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans (2015) recommends limiting daily sodium intake to less than 2,300 milligrams – or approximately 1 teaspoon.  Eating too much sodium may lead to high blood pressure, which may increase the risk for a heart disease, heart attack, and stroke.  Reducing sodium is beneficial in reducing risks for these health-related conditions.  Follow these tips to reduce daily sodium intake.

Read the nutrition label.  The nutrition facts label is one way to identify foods low or high in sodium.  The percent daily value listed on the nutrition facts label can help you quickly determine if a food is low or high in sodium.  Remember this rule for sodium, if the percent daily value is five or less this is a good option!  If the percent daily value is twenty percent or more leave it at the store!  Be sure to choose foods with five percent or less of sodium more often.

Know foods with sodium.  Knowing common foods high in sodium can help to make choosing lower sodium options easier.  Major sources of sodium include processed foods like canned products, breads, deli meats, snack foods, and mixed dishes.  Look for foods labeled as “low sodium” (140 milligrams or less per serving) or “reduced sodium” (at least 25 percent less sodium per serving than the standard product) and choose these foods.  If there is not a low or reduced sodium variety for a canned product, you can always wash the product well with cold water prior to cooking.

Choose lower sodium foods at the store.  Choosing foods lower in sodium can help reduce your daily sodium intake. When you are at the store, compare different brands for condiments, canned foods, breads, and other sodium containing foods.  Different brands of foods can have different sodium levels. Choose the lowest sodium between the foods you compare.  Reducing sodium in the foods we eat can take a little practice.

The tips listed are just a few of the many ways to begin reducing sodium. If you would like to know more about sodium and health, tips on reducing sodium, or how to identify sodium in foods, contact Chris Coon, County Extension Agent – Family & Community Health at or 254-435-2331.

Comments are closed.