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Sodium

The next item on the Nutrition Facts label we are discussing is sodium. Limiting sodium can be an important part of managing your recovery process and some health problems.  For example, high salt intake can significantly increase blood pressure.  Several authorities report that Americans eat on average about 3,400 mg of sodium per day. However, they also recommend adults limit sodium intake to no more than 2000-2300 mg of sodium per day.

Processed foods, fast foods, and restaurant foods are the major sources of sodium in the American diet. Let’s talk about processed foods first.  In addition to the Nutrition Facts label, the list of ingredients may help you understand how much salt is in the product.  The label lists the ingredients in a product in descending order from the most to the least by weight of the ingredient. The most common name for sodium is salt. If salt or anything “sodium” (i.e. – monosodium glutamate, sodium citrate, sodium alginate, or sodium phosphate) is high on the list, there may be a lot of sodium in the food.

Watch for the following words on the front label.

    • “Unsalted” means there is no sodium added to the food. But there may be sodium already in the food naturally.
    • “Sodium-free” means a serving has less than 5 mg of sodium.
    • “Low-sodium” means a serving has 140 mg or less of sodium.
    • “Reduced-sodium” means that there is 25% less sodium than what the food normally has. This is still usually too much sodium. Try not to buy foods with this on the label.

Look at both the serving size and the sodium amount. If you eat a larger or smaller portion than the listed serving size, the amount of sodium will more or less than the amount of sodium listed. Think about what part of your daily food plan this product provides. For example, if the product has 500 mg of sodium per serving, and one serving will be your major part of a meal, that may be ok. If, however, the product has 500 mg of sodium per serving, and it is a snack, then that would most likely be too much sodium for that snack.  I would encourage you to make a different snack choice.

Buy fresh vegetables, or frozen vegetables without added sauces, and buy low-sodium versions of canned vegetables, soups, and other canned goods whenever possible.  And when cooking or at your table, you can reduce your sodium by using a mixture of 1/3 garlic powder (not garlic salt), 1/3 onion powder (not onion salt), and 1/3 salt.  You might also consider using Sea Salt instead of normal table salt.  While normal table salt is all sodium chloride, sea salt contains other minerals like zinc, iron, calcium potassium and magnesium.

Restaurants are required to provide the Nutrition Facts about the foods they serve, but you may need to ask for it.  Many restaurants have this information online.  Keep an eye out for the salt content when you are choosing your meal.  For example, Applebee’s boneless wings will have about 1500 mg of sodium.  But adding classic hot buffalo sauce will add 2700 mg of sodium, while honey BBQ sauce will only add about 800 mg, and honey pepper sauce only about 200 mg.  But if you go for the Neighborhood Nachos with chicken you get a whopping 4900 mg of sodium – over twice the recommended daily about in one appetizer.

Limiting sodium in your food plan can help regulate the fluid balance in your body and can affect your weight.

If you have any questions, comments, or concerns about your salt intake, please make a comment on this blog.

Blessings to you,

Theresa

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