Sodium Recommendations and Your Health
Sodium has been a buzzword in the nutritional community for the past few decades. Primarily the focus has been on what the daily recommended intake should be and how Americans need to lower their consumption of sodium. Health experts have stated that consuming too much salt will increase the risk of developing high blood pressure, heart attacks or strokes. While the negative health impacts or sodium are understood, consumers need clear guidelines of how much sodium to watch in their diet.
Sodium Recommendations: How Much is Too Much?
Medical and nutritional experts cannot agree on how much sodium is too much. Over the past few decades Daily Sodium Recommendations have varied greatly. Overall, the recommendation is to keep sodium intake between 1,100 and 2,300 mg per day. But intake recommendations are unique to a person’s age and overall health.
- Facts on sodium’s benefits are inconclusive, but there is clear evidence pointing to the harm sodium can cause in overabundance. Sodium levels that are too high or too low can cause significant health problems. However, with the exorbitant amount of sodium found in processed foods in our country, people are most likely to have a sodium level that is too high.
- Fast food servings on average contain 4,000 to 8,000 grams of sodium. Add your other meals to the day, no matter how low in sodium they are, and you’re way above the daily recommended intake.
- The Food and Drug Administration will be issuing “voluntary” salt reductions guidelines for food companies to follow. They expect that this will create major change in the amount of sodium found in foods. Although food manufacturers aren’t required to follow the new guidelines, if one company makes the change, others will follow suit.
Your Sodium Intake
Monitoring your own sodium intake can be more challenging than anticipated. There is a lot of sodium hidden in foods that taste good but don’t seem salty. Amy Myrdal Miller, MS, RDN, Senior Director of Programs and Culinary Nutrition at the Culinary Institute of America makes a couple of recommendations to lowering your sodium intake. Her recommendations are listed below:
- Prepare meals at home, using whole foods that are naturally low in sodium.
- Use cooking techniques that mimic the flavor profile salt provides without the extra sodium, such as roasting or caramelizing food.
- Consume Umami-rich foods such as tomatoes, onions and mushrooms increase your sodium sensory perception.
These techniques will allow consumers to enjoy the salty perceptual experience without over consuming sodium.
The type of salt consumed can also make a difference in a diet. Amy Myrdal Miller recommends using diamond crystal kosher salt. The larger diamond crystals contain 60 percent less sodium than regular table salt. Despite current trends, sea salt contains the same amount of sodium as regular table salt. Seasoned salt contains slightly less sodium due to the additional seasonings.
Ultimately, keeping your sodium intake within the range of healthy consumption can be done by preparing and eating whole foods. Make a conscious effort to reduce your sodium intake, avoid major health complications and improve your overall well-being.