Sodium is an essential mineral that your body needs for many bodily functions, but too much sodium can be harmful.
Sodium will make you feel bloated, cause water retention (which leads to weight gain), and may even contribute to high blood pressure.
To avoid these negative effects, it’s important to know how much you’re taking in daily by looking at the nutrition label on the foods you eat. And if you’re not sure how much salt is unhealthy, here are some ways to limit your intake of sodium.
What is sodium?
Sodium is the sodium concentration of a specific food. It also includes sodium nitrate, which is added to some processed meats (especially hot dogs and lunch meat).
How much is too much? Too much sodium is 6 grams per day. According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, this is the daily limit for children.
The Institute of Medicine and the Food and Drug Administration recommend that adults limit their sodium intake to 2,300 milligrams (mg) a day, which is 1 teaspoon of salt.
The American Heart Association recommends that sodium intake be reduced to less than 2,300 mg a day for most adults.
An example of a balanced meal of 2,300 mg sodium is 2 slices of whole-grain bread and 1 teaspoon of peanut butter. Is sodium a cause of high blood pressure?
The Effects of Sodium on the Body
If you eat too much sodium, it’s very easy for the body to get used to it. What seems like a healthy amount of salt is actually harmful.
An extremely high level of salt in the blood can cause cardiovascular issues, especially a condition known as hypertension, or high blood pressure.
High blood pressure can also increase your risk of heart disease and stroke. Other negative effects of eating too much sodium include Heart failure, which can cause high blood pressure to build up on the walls of your blood vessels. High blood pressure.
The longer your body uses up its blood supply, the greater the stress on your heart, and the greater the risk of heart failure.
Chronic kidney disease, or high blood pressure in the kidneys.
How much sodium do you need?
One expert-recommended guideline suggests a maximum daily intake of 2,300 milligrams (mg) of sodium (a pinch is equal to 1 teaspoon).
So even if you exercise regularly and eat a well-balanced diet, if you have high blood pressure or are in generally poor health, you should check with your doctor to ensure that your daily intake is appropriate.
What about some of your favorite foods? Well, no matter how healthy you eat, it’s still possible to overdo it on sodium if you’re not careful.
Foods to Avoid for Lowering Your Sodium Intake
Red meat – Eat protein from fish, poultry, beans, tofu, or beans as well. Whole grain pasta – Not refined white bread.
Beans – Beans are good for you, but choose dark kidney beans or lentils and avoid black beans. Pasta – Choose whole-grain pasta.
Microwavable meals – Refrigerate. Soups – Mislabeled soups can be loaded with salt. These foods are especially high in sodium.
Sweeteners Fatty foods Uncooked whole grains Raw fish Seeds Caffeinated drinks Sugary beverages Hot soups Healthy Fats Avocado Raw nuts Sardines Turkey breast Soy products Mayonnaise Eggs Low-fat foods Limiting your intake of any of these items will lower your sodium intake.
What to Do: Purchase only the foods that have a nutrition label and sodium information.
Tips to Eat Less Sodium
Avoid packaged foods and frozen foods. All of these foods contain added sodium. Rely on spices to add flavor and try to avoid using salt.
Instead, use fresh herbs and pepper or lemon. In order to make the food taste good, you may want to use less salt.
So look at labels and choose only the sodium content of the food you are eating. And don’t be afraid to leave the salt out of recipes altogether, especially if you are not using a lot at the start. This can lead to a delicious, low sodium meal that your family will eat, and you won’t feel so guilty about it.
When you do eat sodium-rich food, make sure you are aware of its sodium content.
Keep a pen and paper nearby, so that you can write down the amounts of sodium contained in foods as you taste them.
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