I used to be the person who would salt food before I tasted it. I remember my mom always getting after my dad for doing that at the dinner table, but I never really knew why. I now know that it was likely due to the fact he had high blood pressure.
My dad took medication for high blood pressure, and I knew the condition ‘ran in the family.’ What I didn’t know until more recently is that you can lower your blood pressure but watching what you eat. Mainly your sodium intake. Too much can lead to not only high blood pressure. If the condition is serious enough, it can lead to heart attack and stroke.
There’s some sense to the quote ‘let food be thy medicine…’, no?
I try very hard not to add any more salt than really needed to the food I eat. I think reducing salt intake is an acquired taste, sort of like Greek yogurt. It might make your noise crinkle until you first start to enjoy it, then you can never go back to your old plain yogurt ways.
But, we don’t want to eliminate salt completely. Sodium is an important mineral and your body needs it to function.
So, how much salt do you really need daily? 1 teaspoon of salt contains approximately 100% daily value of sodium at 2325 mg.
One teaspoon?! I know I have made recipes in the past with 1/2-1 teaspoon of salt, and I sit down and eat maybe 1/3 of the dish. That is a lot of sodium.
The CDC lists necessary and tolerable levels of sodium per day. We need 180-500 mg to function. It’s recommended we get 1,500 mg, but the tolerable limit is 2,300. The tolerable limit is what is listed as the ‘daily recommended value’ on food labels. On average, American’s intake 3,436 mg a day. That’s kind of a scary number, especially considering that this is generated for Americans over the age of 2!
When I used to track food on My Fitness Pal, many days I passed the recommended levels of sodium intake. This is something I have been trying to watch more closely.
If you want to start reducing your sodium intake, step one is to set down the salt shaker. Try your food before you cover it in who knows how much salt. You likely get the necessary sodium intake from natural foods without any seasonings.
Next, be away of some of these high sodium foods:
- cottage cheese (1/2 cup serving) – 410 mg (18% DV)
- canned vegetables – up to 350 mg per serving (make sure to rinse these thoroughly if you use them)
- packaged deli meat – up to 400 mg per serving
- Progresso canned soup – 650 mg per serving (wow)
- Soy sauce – up to 920 mg per serving
- Salad dressing – up to 300 mg per serving
These are really just to name a few. The fact is, you should just be aware of how much sodium is in the food that you eat.