Are You Swimming in Sodium?

June 12, 2014

Are you eating too much salt? Most likely.

The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recommends average adults and even children consume fewer than 2,300 milligrams of sodium a day. That number drops to 1,500 milligrams for people with predisposed indicators such as age, race and chronic disease.

So why are we having a problem regulating intake? "Sodium is used as a preservative in many processed and ready-to-eat foods," said Mercy dietitian Jade Manczuk RD, LD. "Fruits, vegetables, fresh meats, fish, eggs, dairy, dry beans and grains are all whole foods that are low in sodium in their natural form -- but sodium can sneak into healthy foods if they're canned."

Manczuk suggests choosing fresh or frozen fruit and vegetables with no added sauces or seasonings. If you prefer canned food, choose low-sodium or no-salt-added products.

"Dry beans cost less per serving and do not contain added sodium like their canned counterparts," added Manczuk. "Save time by making the whole bag of dry beans at once and freeze batches for easy use in future meals."

Preparing meals and snacks at home can also cut back excess sodium in the diet.

"Another healthy habit is to take the salt shaker off the table and try using salt-free seasonings," explained Manczuk. "Different brands offer a variety of salt-free seasonings you can find in the spice aisle of the grocery store."

Seasoning powders such as garlic powder, onion powder, and chili powder are sodium-free.  Herbs are another great option naturally low in sodium. "Basil and oregano are great in your favorite Italian dish and cilantro is a tasty addition in Mexican dishes. Get creative with the meals you create."