How to Keep Your Sodium Levels Even

Don't pass the salt: Many foods contain added salt and sodium.

Don't pass the salt: Many foods contain added salt and sodium.

The mineral sodium is an essential nutrient that is found in table salt and many other foods. It works to balance fluid levels in your body, contract and relax your muscles and transmit nerve impulses. However, too much sodium can lead to high blood pressure and other disorders. MayoClinic.com recommends limiting sodium to under 2,300 milligrams a day and only 1,500 milligrams a day if you are over the age of 51, of African-American heritage or if you have high blood pressure, chronic kidney disease and diabetes. Keeping your sodium levels balanced requires looking at your daily diet carefully.

Eat more whole foods and prepare dishes with a few simple ingredients. You can make a balanced and delicious meal with ingredients such as whole-grains, fresh vegetables and legumes. Cooking at home allows you to control how much salt is added to your food. Though some foods naturally contain sodium, added salt is usually what makes your meal high in sodium.

Avoid processed foods, frozen dinners and packaged foods. Foods such as frozen pizzas, french fries and fish fingers may be convenient to heat up and eat but they typically contain high amounts of sodium to help keep them from spoiling. A frozen pasta dinner contains almost 470 grams of sodium.

Limit eating cuisines that are high in sodium when eating out. Chinese food is particularly high because it uses many sauces and flavorings that have high-salt ingredients, such as monosodium glutamate, or MSG, and soy sauce. When eating Chinese food ask for low-sodium soy sauce which contains about 177 milligrams of sodium per teaspoon, instead of the 335 milligrams found in regular soy sauce.

Restrict eating processed and cured meats such as sausages, cold cuts and smoked salmon. These foods contain high amounts of salt to help preserve them. Also limit cheeses that are high in salt.

Tips

  • Foods that naturally contain sodium also contribute to your daily intake of this mineral. These include all vegetables, milk and other dairy products, shellfish and meat. For example 1 cup of low-fat milk has almost 107 milligrams of sodium.
  • One teaspoon of salt contains 2,325 milligrams of sodium.
  • Eating a balanced diet that is high in whole and unprocessed foods can help you keep your sodium levels even.

Warning

  • If you have high blood pressure, heart disease or kidney disease it may be necessary to eliminate processed and packaged foods from your diet. Consult your doctor or nutritionist about the best daily diet for you.
 

About the Author

Nadia Haris is a registered radiation therapist who has been writing about nutrition for more than six years. She is completing her Master of Science in nutrition with a focus on the dietary needs of oncology patients.

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