How and Why We Should Cut Sodium From Our Diet

— Written By Lethia Lee and last updated by Patricia Burch

This is a subject I love to talk about because of the seriousness it is for our health. I know first hand how it effects our body, and what it does to our most vital organs. I will try and explain why your doctor is telling you to cut back on both salt and your sodium intake. It is easy enough to stop adding salt to your food, but where does all the extra sodium come from?

For many people, consuming too much sodium may contribute to high blood pressure, which is a risk factor for cardiovascular disease such as heart and stroke, and it may lead to fluid retention and bloating. If you are sensitive to sodium, decreasing the amount of salt and ingredients that contain sodium may help keep your blood pressure at a healthier level. One teaspoon of salt has about 2,300 milligrams sodium, just one quarter teaspoon has 580 milligrams, and a dash of salt has around 150 milligrams.

While salt is a primary source, many processed foods are high in sodium too. Canned and frozen, meats, cured meats, and many other processed foods contain outrageous amounts of sodium. Both from salt used to flavor the foods and any food additives and preservatives that contain sodium in various forms. So to keep your intake down, you need to do more than simply put away your salt shaker. You can also locate the nutrition facts label on the product to determine how much sodium is in the foods you buy. Void products that have more than 140 milligrams of sodium per serving. You can also rinse your canned vegetables to remove some of the sodium.

So you may be asking how much sodium is too much? According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2015, these groups should currently be limiting their sodium intake to less than 1,500 milligrams per day. African Americans, Diabetics, people with high blood pressure, people with kidney disease, everyone over the age of fifty. Now that’s a large group.

Anyone not included in that group should stay under 2,300 milligrams per day, which is not easy if you eat any processed foods at all, even some that are otherwise good for you. You’ll find sodium in most butter or margarine, milk, bread, and other staple foods. Look at the nutrition facts labels for the amount of sodium per serving. Look for these ingredients on the labels of all processed and packaged foods that you buy such as Monosodium, glutamate, Baking soda, baking powder, disodium phosphate, sodium alginate, sodium nitrate or nitrite.

Our body needs some sodium so you don’t want to eliminate all sodium from your diet, that would be almost impossible. Here are a few ways that you can check out, to cut back.

Be sure to read food labels and choose foods that are low in sodium. Choose fresh or frozen vegetables rather than canned, avoid lunch meats and cured meats, stay away from frozen convenience foods like frozen dinners, pizzas, and snack foods, buy unsalted nuts and snacks, eliminate salt from your recipes. Try salt substitutes made with potassium, seasoning blends can work well, but read the ingredients list and nutrition facts labels because they often contain salt or sodium.

For more information on salt and sodium intake and your health contact Lethia Lee with the Sampson County cooperative Extension Office at 910-592-7161 or e-mail me at Thanks for reading and continue to look for topics of interest on your health. Our health and the health of our loved ones should be number one priority to us.