Despite all the negative news you may hear about sodium and how it contributes to high blood pressure, heart failure, and a number of chronic health conditions, the mineral sodium does play an essential role of regulating the balance of fluids in our body. Sodium is found in trace amounts naturally in foods but is also added to foods through the use of salt.
Very few Americans need to worry about having too little sodium in their diets – if anything, it’s the exact opposite, we all need to cut back and follow a lower or low sodium diet. The average human body needs less than 500 mg of sodium daily to function properly – that’s less than ¼ of teaspoon each day. The more sodium you consume, the more fluid builds up in your body. When your body is carrying this extra fluid it causes stress on your heart and may increase your blood pressure.
Americans Love Their Salt
In the average American diet, more than 75% of the sodium that is consumed daily is in the form of salt added to processed foods. Often, you may not even know you are eating it. Sodium is often found in high levels in canned soups, salad dressings, pasta, bread and cereals. Food manufacturers and producers generally use salt to preserve foods and enhance the flavor, and it’s also found in additives and preservatives that alter the texture or color of foods. The next time you’re at the grocery store, take a look at the ingredient labels on your packaged food purchases – the amount of sodium even “healthy” choices contain may surprise you.
While removing the salt shaker from the table is a great place to start when trying to reduce your sodium consumption, there are additional steps that are important to take to lower or reduce your chances of developing high blood pressure.
Our 10 Low Sodium Diet Tips
- Avoid using any kind of “salt”. This includes garlic or onion salts or MSG. Carefully review the ingredient labels on condiments such as salad dressings, canned or bottled sauces, or packaged soup starters or bouillon cubes.
- Add flavor to your meals by using fresh ingredients and natural herbs and spices.
- When you’re cooking your favorite recipes, you can often skip adding the salt without any problematic outcomes. One of the few exceptions is when baking bread or bakery items that use yeast – salt is necessary for the rising process.
- Skip the high salt marinades and dressings and make your own low sodium versions using fruit juices such as orange, lemon, lime, or pineapple juice with fresh herbs such as rosemary, thyme, and cilantro.
- Avoid purchasing items such as canned soups, pre-made or packaged entrees, pasta or rice mixes, and instant cereal. You can make many of these easily at home and have control over the amount of salt you put in.
- Use fresh or frozen vegetables without creamy sauces. Lightly season fresh or cooked vegetables with natural herbs and spices (this is how we prepare our frozen vegetable medleys) instead of using salted butter or cheese.
- Stay away from cured meats and cold cuts as these are often high in sodium.
- Fast food items such as burgers, chicken nuggets, pizza and french fries are loaded with sodium and are best avoided.
- Be sodium smart when eating out at a restaurant. Choose a restaurant that either offers low-sodium menu options or will allow substitutions such as steamed or plain vegetables, salad dressings served on the side, entrees that are broiled, baked, grilled, or roasted.
- Maintain a body weight approved by your doctor and commit to having a healthy lifestyle. Following a healthy lifestyle often means making changes to your eating habits. Incorporate more fresh or frozen vegetables and fruits into each of your meals, exercise daily, and limit your consumption of processed foods that are high in fats, refined sugars and salt.
Tommy’s Products Are Great for Low Sodium Diets
At Tommy’s Superfoods we think our flash frozen vegetable medleys are so delicious that adding lots of extra salt to them is completely unnecessary! Our seasonings rely on our favorite herbs and spices and we’re certain you’ll enjoy eating them just as they are.