Sodium, more commonly known as table salt, is essential to our bodies. Regulated by the kidneys, this mineral helps us to maintain a balance of fluid in our bodies and affects muscle function. The American Heart Association recommends about 1,500 milligrams of sodium daily. Unfortunately, nine out of 10 Americans consume well above the recommended amount on a regular basis. In fact, about eighty percent of the sodium consumed by Americans comes from processed foods like cereals and baked goods. Excess sodium can increase one’s risk for high blood pressure, which can lead to heart disease and stroke.

Adopt a healthy habit and avoid the extra sodium. If you are planning on eating canned vegetables, make sure there is no salt added. Go easy on the condiments, especially pre-made salad dressings and soy sauce (just one teaspoon has over 300mg)! In general, choose fresh food items. Your heart and kidneys will thank you later!

Did You Know?

  • About 77% of sodium comes from food bought in restaurants
  • The average American consumes about 3,400 milligrams of sodium per day
  • In the U.S., high blood pressure is a leading risk factor for death in women
  • 77.9 million American adults have high blood pressure
  • 97% are unaware of their sodium intake

Tips for Controlling Sodium Intake

  1. Choose lower-sodium foods and cook at home more often
  2. Check the Nutrition Facts label for the amount of sodium per serving and the number of servings per container
  3. Look for the Heart-Check mark to find products that can help you make smarter choices about the foods you eat
  4. Read food labels thoroughly

Check out these infographics from the American Heart Association!

Sources:  American Heart Association, Greatist, LifeWork Strategies EAP, and Adventist HealthCare. The Health Tip of the Week is for educational purposes only. For medical advice, consult your physician. Feel free to copy and distribute this health resource.