The 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA) are designed to improve the health of Americans by promoting healthy eating choices and physical activity, ultimately reducing risk for chronic diseases.
One of the recommendations is for the general population, ages 2 through 50, to reduce daily sodium intake to less than 2300mg/day. For individuals who are older than 50, African Americans, have hypertension, diabetes, or chronic kidney disease, the recommendation is 1500 mg. A lower sodium diet may help control and/or reduce your risk for hypertension.
How can this be accomplished? Will the flavor of food have to be sacrificed? These are questions often asked by people who want to reduce their sodium intake for the first time.
Here are some tips:
1. Eat fewer unprocessed foods such as fresh fruit, vegetables, poultry, and fish. These food groups are naturally lower in sodium. Many processed foods are very high in sodium. If fresh vegetables are not available, use frozen vegetables. Avoid canned vegetables that are processed with sodium or salt. When you cook "from scratch," you can better control the sodium in your diet.
2. Read and compare labels. Sodium chloride is the chemical name for salt. The culprit is sodium. Many manufacturers are producing lower sodium products. For example, when making soup, use low sodium versions of broth.
3. When you are cooking, try using spices and other flavorings such as garlic, dill, citrus juices etc. Experiment with new flavors!
4. Make your own salad dressings and soups to control the level of sodium in your diet.
5. Use more vegetables and less deli meats on your sandwiches. Try just adding an ounce of meat for flavor or find substitutes like hummus, low fat cheeses, or homemade chicken salad.
6. When eating out, request that extra salt not be added to your food.
7. Control the salt shaker in your life! One teaspoon of salt contains 2,300mg of sodium.
Here are some publications from Virginia Cooperative Extension that might be helpful in your quest to reduce sodium in your diet.
Herbs and Spices:
Sneaky Sodium: http://pubs.ext.vt.edu/348/348-827/348-827_pdf.pdf
The Dash eating plan also offers some excellent suggestions to modify your diet to decrease sodium.