Put Down the Salt Shaker

The federal government says Americans are eating too much sodium, and it’s probably right. Learn about the latest sodium guidelines.

By Reader's Digest Editors

The federal government says Americans are eating too much sodium. Most consume 3,400 milligrams of sodium a day – that’s 1,000 milligrams more than we should, according to new sodium guidelines released this week. The new guidelines urge us to limit sodium intake to about one teaspoon of salt, or 2,300 milligrams. Americans older than 51, African-Americans, and people with hypertension, diabetes, or kidney problems should further limit intake to about half a teaspoon.

Limiting sodium intake is hard in a world of frozen dinners, canned soups and vegetables, and fast-food – all of which contain lots of salt. Just one frozen meal can have up to 1,500 milligrams of sodium per serving.

The simple fact is that salt usually makes meals taste better. But another simple fact is that a sodium-heavy diet can lead to hypertension, heart disease, and stroke. What’s the best thing you can do to avoid excess sodium consumption? Prepare your own meals with fresh foods rather the eating pre-packaged foods so you can control how much salt goes into the dish.

Fitsugar.com offers other great tips for lowering your sodium intake:

  • Add flavor to meals with dried or fresh herbs rather than salt.
  • Go easy on the condiments, which usually contain lots of sodium.
  • If you use canned vegetables or beans, rinse them before serving to wash off extra salt.

Sources: CNN.com, CDC.gov, FitSugar.com

Plus: USDA Message for a Healthy Diet: Get Off the Sofas!

  • Your Comments