- By Beth Levine
(This article appeared previously on Grandparents.com)
We all know we shouldn’t eat too much salt and that overdoing it can lead to high blood pressure, heart attack, stroke and other heart-related diseases. The problem is that salt is hidden everywhere — even in foods that you might not suspect, like salad dressings and chicken breast.The U.S. Dietary Guidelines recommend less than 2300 mg of sodium a day. If you’re over 51, African American, or have high blood pressure, chronic kidney disease or diabetes, you should limit it to under 1500 mg.
Our Sodium Intake Is Off the Charts
The problem: According to the USDA Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion, the estimated average intake of sodium for Americans ages 2 and older is approximately 3400 mg per day.
The American Heart Association (AHA) reports that 75 percent of the sodium in the average American diet comes from salt added to processed or restaurant foods, so think twice before you buy those heat-and-eat dinners in the supermarket freezer case or order that nachos grande at your favorite eatery.As for foods in your home, here are the eight worst sodium offenders:
8. Jarred spaghetti sauces, condiments and salad dressings These are huge salt magnets. Jarred spaghetti can contain more than 400 mg per serving. Salad dressings differ vastly, but can go as high as 400 mg for two tablespoons. One tablespoon of mayo can have 125 mg and the equivalent amount of ketchup can have 190 mg. Those last two may not sound high but in reality, when you use them, do you really keep it to one tablespoon? It all adds up.
How to Cut Your Sodium Intake
Here are five ways to lower the amount of sodium you eat or drink:
- Read the nutrition labels. Sodium levels are clearly marked.
- Beware of misleading labels. “Food products that are labeled ‘low fat’ or ‘low calorie’ may be adding more salt to make up for taste,” says Johnson.
- Look for products labeled “low sodium” (contains less than 140 mg per serving), “very low sodium” (less than 35 mgs) or “sodium free” (less than five mgs). Also, check out products that carry the AHA’s Heart-Check endorsement. It means the product has less than 480 mg per serving.
- Learn to cook with reduced salt. You can boost flavor with herbs, spices and citruses such as lemon and lime. (Hint: Don’t use garlic salt or onion salt.) “You can train your taste buds to be accustomed to lower sodium intakes,” says Johnson.
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