Americans Consume Too Much Salt – Do You?
Based on the 2015 Dietary Guidelines issued by the USDA (US Department of Agriculture), the sodium intake for most people age 14 and older should not exceed 2,300 mg and should be considerably less for anyone with high blood pressure (hypertension). However, 3,400 mg is the average daily sodium intake for most Americans age 2 and older! This amount comes out to be almost 1.5 teaspoons of salt every day.
- This infographic from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows guidelines for sodium intake in healthy American adults. Learn more at cdc.gov/salt.
Adults aren’t the only ones consuming too much salt. Children and teens also need to reduce their sodium consumption as is shown in this bar graph comparing average daily calorie and sodium intake for children 6-11, 11-13, and teens aged 14-18.
- Infographic on children and teen’s sodium consumption from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Where does sodium come from?
When analyzing the typical American diet, 75% of the salt we consume daily is hidden in packaged, processed, and pre-made foods, as shown above. This infographic from Million Hearts shows how foods you eat several times a day can add up to a lot of sodium even if each serving is fine on its own.
When you do the math, it’s obvious that by reducing or eliminating foods that have large amounts of salt added to them during the manufacturing process, the average person’s sodium intake would fall well below the 2,300mg threshold. This would greatly reduce the risk of developing high blood pressure.
What’s the most effective strategy for reducing sodium in your diet?
1. Choose to eat more fresh foods and less highly-processed items.
Fruits and vegetables are low in sodium, so including more of these, either fresh or frozen, with each meal is a great way to lower the amount of salt you consume every day. When choosing frozen vegetables, be sure to check the label. All Tommy’s Superfoods frozen vegetables medleys are low in sodium and minimally processed, so you know you’re making a healthy choice.
2. Develop an awareness of where it may be hiding in your food.
While some foods like pizza, canned soups, and salty snacks are clearly high in salt, there are other foods where it might come as a surprise. For example, packaged cereal can taste sweet but still contain a high level of salt. The safest way to know how much salt has been added to your food is to look at the Nutrition Facts Label. Unfortunately, a great many people don’t do this, and as a result may think they are consumer far less salt than they really are.
3. Start cutting back or eliminating the amount of prepared foods and fast foods that you eat on a weekly basis.
While these options can be quick and easy when you’re hungry and on the run, the long-term health consequences from eating them regularly is significant. Instead of buying canned soup and frozen meals, which are often very high in sodium, either make your own or look for versions that are low-salt or no-salt (like Tommy’s Superfoods!). Keep healthy snacks like unsalted nuts, trail mix or granola in the car or your desk at work to fill you up when you want something to eat.
4. Prepare your own meals.
By and large, preparing your own meals is the best way to control the amount of sodium you consume. If you find that you’re often short on time or energy during the week, make a few soups, stews, or casseroles over the weekend and divide into portions that can be quickly and easily re-heated. You can save time preparing and seasoning vegetables if you purchase a low-sodium, seasoned medley that is as simple as heat and eat.
When you’re cooking your own food, not only will you use less salt, but you can also add flavorings such as herbs, spices, citrus zest and juices such as lemon, lime or orange, and flavored vinegars that can bring variety to your meals. Instead of added salt during the cooking process, wait until it is served and you’ve had a chance to taste it first – you may discover that adding salt is unnecessary, even for the pickiest of palates.
As you begin to reduce the amount of salt you consume each day, you’ll start to notice your tolerance for salty, highly processed food diminishes – to the point where the food no longer tastes as good as you once thought it did!
Tommy’s Superfoods are Low in Sodium
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.
If you’d like to learn more about the USDA’s healthy eating guidelines as well as additional information about how to reduce sodium in your diet, visit choosemyplate.gov.