Pay attention to this number, and your sodium intake can go way down.
No one *wants* to eat a diet that’s sky-high in sodium, right? For one thing, there’s the bloating. But that’s just the beginning, right?
You know high-sodium diets are linked to a host of health issues, from high blood pressure to kidney stones to osteoporosis.
But odds are, even if you’re trying to cut back on your sodium intake, you’re still eating more than you realize. (Here are some sneaky high-sodium foods to watch for.) While the government’s dietary guidelines recommend that most Americans consume 2,300 milligrams of sodium or less a day (and perhaps even less for people with certain health issues, like heart failure or high blood pressure), 90% of people age 2 and older are eating more than they should. The average sodium intake is more than 3,400 milligrams, per the CDC’s Division for Heart and Stroke Prevention.
The main reason for our sodium love affair: we literally can’t shake it. More than 70% of the sodium we eat has nothing to do with the salt shaker; it’s the sodium added to processed and restaurant foods for flavor or shelf life. (On the other hand, check out these processed foods that are healthier than you think.)
And as easy as it is for nutritionists or health sites to admonish people to cut way back on their processed food intake or read labels to watch their sodium, that’s not always so simple to do. LBH, are you really keeping a mental calculator every time you eat a granola bar or grab a handful or trail mix to make sure you don’t go over 2,400 milligrams of sodium a day? Uh, no.
That’s where this helpful trick from NYC-based nutritionist Frances Largeman-Roth, RDN, comes in. It’s basically a quick way to read food labels to see if they’re high in sodium or not.
“The way that I like to think about that is if you're having three meals, [you should eat] no more than about 500 milligrams [of sodium] at each meal,” she explains. “Then the rest of that would be taken up with snacks.”
Thinking of your sodium intake in 500-milligram chunks is much easier to keep track of, especially if your any parts of breakfast, lunch, or dinner come from a fast food or quick service restaurant where the nutrition information is readily available. Like to cook? It’s also a memorable number to keep in mind as you scan recipes for their potential heart-healthy traits.
Frances Largeman-Roth is a nutritionist and cookbook author in New York City.
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So a lot of people
are surprised to hear that most
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of the salt that we get in our diet is
actually not from the salt shaker, and
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it's not from any salt that we add
to the food that we make at home.
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It's coming from processed food,
packaged food, and restaurant food.
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And the sodium guidelines are that we
should be consuming no more than 2300
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milligrams a day.
00:00:25,770 --> 00:00:30,040
So the way that I like to think about
that is if you're having three meals,
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no more than about 500
milligrams at each meal.
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And then the rest of that
would be taken up with snacks.
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It's a tough thing to control because
salt is added to everything to
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make it taste good.
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But if you're focusing on fresh foods,
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you're gonna go a long way
towards cutting out sodium.
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