Sodium is one of America's largest dietary problems. If you consume too much sodium, you run a greater risk of raised blood pressure, which could then lead to heart disease and stroke. Although it may seem that the best tasting foods also have the highest levels of salt, there are plenty of foods and drinks which are just as delicious but far exceed them in nutrition.
Sodium Per Day
The 2012 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends a sodium intake of less than 2,300 milligrams a day. If you are 52 years of age or older, you should decrease that number to 1,500 milligrams per day. However, the average American consumes around 3,400 milligrams of sodium each day. A single teaspoon of table salt contains 2,325 milligrams of sodium, so it is easy to go overboard if you like to add salt to your food.
Low Sodium Foods
Cut out highly processed foods and fast foods; these are the huge sodium traps. Instead, eat more organic, whole foods. Fruits and vegetables are naturally low in sodium and high in potassium, a nutrient most Americans don't get enough of. By filling half your plate with fruits and/or vegetables, you will be able to boost your potassium and restore the potassium-salt balance. Stay away from anything canned, however, because such products usually contain added salt.
Low Sodium Drinks
The absolute best drink -- containing zero sodium and zero calories -- is water. Your body survives on water and relies on it for clearing out toxins and keeping you hydrated. But if you want more flavor, instead of turning to high-sodium vegetable juices or soda, brew a cup of coffee or tea. If you don't add sugar or cream, they are also calorie-free and contain a healthy dose of antioxidants, flavonoids and other disease-fighting nutrients. Milk is another beverage relatively low in sodium and high in calcium and vitamin D. Low-fat milk, sold as 1 percent or 1.5 percent milk, or skim milk, which is virtually fat-free, are the best choices because they contain much less saturated fat than reduced-fat milk or whole milk, which contain 2 percent and 4 percent milk fat, respectively.
What to Avoid
In order to maintain a healthy daily amount of sodium, stay away from meats such as cured or smoked meats, bacon, hot dogs, sausage, bologna, ham and salami. Anchovies, olives, pickles and sauerkraut are also high in sodium. To keep your salad clean, forgo the cheese and bottled salad dressings. Popular flavors such as soy and Worcestershire sauces can ruin an otherwise low-sodium plate as well.