Feeling salty?

salt-shakerDid you know that the human body only requires about 500 mg of sodium per day, all of which is easily consumed eating a healthy, plant-based diet without adding salt? Did you know that, on average, Americans consume 3400 mg of sodium per day? Sodium is a vital electrolyte in our bodies, but we tend to overeat it constantly. Excess consumption of sodium becomes a problem, as it can increase your blood pressure which requires your heart to work harder.

If too much sodium is not good, how can you minimize your sodium intake? Read the food label! A good guideline to follow is to choose foods that have 140 mg sodium or less per serving. Try to keep your daily sodium intake between 1500 and 2300 mg. Unprocessed foods like fresh fruits and veggies contain some sodium, but processed foods really pack it in. For example, one Healthy Choice Grilled Basil Chicken microwave meal contains 610 mg sodium, which is 1/3 of the daily recommended amount. Making your own grilled basil chicken is only 140 mg sodium for one serving. Leave the salt shaker off the table, and use salt-free spices like Mrs. Dash in your cooking.

Endurance athletes require extra sodium and electrolytes during training, but most casual exercisers do not. Are you a salty sweater? An easy way to determine this is to look at your clothes and skin after your next workout. Let your sweat dry – is there a white residue around your eyes, temples, and nose? Are there white marks on your shirt? If so you’re a salty sweater and you may have increased sodium needs post-workout. Most sports drinks, like gatorade, contain sodium and other electrolytes to help you replenish what is lost in sweat.

If you’re already struggling with high blood pressure or are looking to cut down on the salt in your diet, check out the DASH diet to help improve your sodium intake. Click here for the diet overview, restaurant tips, recipes, and more.

Contact your FFC Dietitian, Sara Kevern with questions: Skevern@ffc.com.