Sarah Bruyn Jones, who covers healthcare here at the paper, recently forwarded me a press release from the Centers for Disease Control about sodium consumption in America. According to this report, 9 out of 10 adults consume too much sodium in their daily diets.
This news doesn’t surprise me. U.S. Dietary Guidelines recommend that people consume no more than 2,300 milligrams of sodium per day. If you are 51 or older, African American, or suffer from kidney disease, diabetes or high blood pressure, you are supposed to limit sodium intake to 1,500 milligrams or less per day.
These are the top sources of sodium in American diets:
1. Yeast breads (7.3%)
2. Chicken and chicken mixed dishes (6.8%)
3. Pizza (6.3%)
4. Pasta and pasta dishes (5.1%)
5. Cold cuts (4.5%)
6. Condiments (4.4%)
7. Tortillas, burritos, tacos (4.1%)
8. Sausage, franks, bacon, ribs (4.1%)
9. Regular cheese (3.5%)
10. Grain-based desserts (3.4%)
In other words, all the good stuff. But you’ve probably noticed a lot of products come in low-sodium versions, so that’s a good place to start when lowering your intake. Chicken is a biggie because it is often injected with a salt solution, or brine. So look for chicken that doesn’t have added salt, and low-sodium canned foods.
Another way to reduce sodium is to limit your consumption of convenience products such as boxed macaroni and cheese mix, ready-made mashed potatoes or BBQ, or flavored rice mixes. Choose fresh fruits, veggies and meats instead, or cook your own rice or pasta and lightly season it.
This reminds me that I saw a neat idea on Pinterest recently: Prep as much as you can for a slow cooker meal and freeze the ingredients in zipper-lock bags. That way all you have to do is pull one out of the freezer when you want to put together a slow cooker meal. But slow cookers often cook veggies to death, so try to eat more steamed, grilled or baked veggies, too.
I won’t say much more because I know I probably eat too much sodium, and I also know that most of us know how to reduce our sodium intake – it’s just a matter of consciously making healthier decisions at the grocery store or when we go out to eat. It’s hard! But we can do it.
Have you had to lower your sodium intake? If so, what are some tips you’ve learned along the way?