Reducing Sodium for Hypertension and Better Health

Reducing Sodium for Hypertension and Better Health

August 31, 2015

Sodium is a chemical that is essential to life, but most Americans consume much more sodium than they need. High sodium intakes can cause problems in some people-especially those with hypertension (high blood pressure). Recent research also shows that high sodium diets may decrease calcium absorption, which is a major problem if you are at risk for osteoporosis.

 Most people get sodium in their diet by consuming salt (sodium chloride). However, hidden sodium in food is something you should also be concerned with. One teaspoon of salt is equal to 2000mg of sodium. This is almost 10 times more than the body’s daily needs. Many Americans eat 2-3 times more than this daily. Individuals should limit total sodium to no more than 2000-2500mg. A single fast food meal can supply close to half that maximum. Refer to the corresponding list of high sodium foods to limit in the diet.

Five Steps to Lower Sodium: 

  • Avoid adding salt at the table or in cooking.
  • Try using low sodium herbs and spices in cooking and at the table.
  • Avoid obviously salty foods (see list below).
  • Read labels carefully to find hidden sodium. Try to purchase products that provide no more than 200mg of sodium per serving.
  • Be selective when eating out. Try to order food prepared without salt. Ask for dressings and sauces on the side. Choose entrees that are prepared in a “simpler” manner. Limit high salt items like croutons, shredded cheese, and bacon bits.

High Sodium Foods: 

  • Dairy: buttermilk, cocoa mix, processed cheeses
  • Meat: canned, salted, or smoked meats and fish, bacon, bologna, salami, cold cuts, frankfurters, corned beef, canned stew
  • Vegetables: regular canned vegetables and juices, canned soups, olives, pickles, sauerkraut
  • Bread: salted crackers, pizza, some cereals, some convenience mixes
  • Snacks: potato and other chips, salted pretzels, other snack mixes
  • Other: ketchup, mustard, soy sauce, MSG, bouillon cubes, salad dressing, frozen dinner and snack foods, fast food meals

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Diet and Nutrients , Meal and Menu Planning, Diet and Disease