A little sodium is usually safe for most people, but nobody should be overdoing it with the salt shaker. That’s especially true for older Americans. And, unfortunately, sodium is seemingly in every type of food, which makes it difficult to minimize your intake.
The American Heart Association recommends no more than 2,300 mg of sodium per day and says 1,500 mg of sodium per day is a healthier choice. That’s usually pretty tough for most folks without some serious changes to their diet.
How to Reduce the Sodium Intake in Your Diet
If you’re looking to reduce sodium in your everyday diet, consider these nine tips:
1. Read the Nutrition Label
Food manufacturers are required to display the amount of sodium on food packaging. Before you purchase your groceries, check the nutrition labels to see how much sodium a serving contains. Some foods, such as cottage cheese, have a high amount of sodium but do not taste salty. So don’t rely on taste alone.
2. Opt for Fresh Meats
Packaged, processed meats can contain more sodium than their fresh counterparts. While fresh meat does contain natural sodium, it’s usually much less than packaged meats. If you do purchase packaged meat, opt for the lower sodium varieties. (Hint: if a processed meat keeps longer than a few days or up to a few weeks, it’s probably high in sodium.)
Also beware of packaging. Some brands inject their meat with saline solution to add flavor and weight. This should be printed on the package, so make sure you read the disclaimers before you purchase.
3. Buy fresh fruits and vegetables
Canned goods offer convenience, but often at the price of high sodium. Fresh fruits and vegetables are straight from the farm and do not contain any added ingredients, such as sodium. If that isn’t possible, frozen fruits and vegetables are generally better than canned.
4. Compare various brands of the same product
The amount of sodium in a particular product can vary between manufacturers. Check the food label on several brands to ensure you’re getting one with a lower amount of sodium.
5. Buy low sodium products
Salt is not a necessity. Rather, it’s something that enhances flavor. Studies show that it takes 6-8 weeks to “unlearn” your preference for salt. Once you do, however, it becomes more difficult to eat salty foods because your body isn’t used to the salty flavor.
6. Avoid dining out
Cooking at home means you can (somewhat) control the amount of sodium in your meals. Restaurants, however, may add unnecessary sodium and other ingredients to your meal. This is especially harmful if you add salt once your meal arrives.
7. Substitute with zero-sodium seasonings
The whole purpose of salt is to add flavor to a dish, right? You have plenty of seasoning options (other than salt) that can add flavor without adding sodium. For instance, try substituting dried herbs instead.
8. Steer clear from condiments
Flavor-boosting foods like ketchup, salad dressing and mustard might not taste salty, but can pack a hefty amount of sodium in each serving. If you can live without condiments, do so.
9. Drain and rinse canned goods
When you crack open a can of beans or vegetables, drain the water and rinse the contents. Food producers often add salt to the water before canning to add flavor. Discarding the water from the can and adding your own can cut your sodium intake by about 40%.
Health and Nutrition at Five Star Senior Living
When in doubt, talk to your doctor to determine which foods are safe for your low sodium diet, and which ones should be avoided at all costs. Older adults, in particular, should watch their sodium intake.
At Five Star Senior Living, meals are prepared according to healthy guidelines, including low-sodium choices. Residents enjoy meals that are not only delicious but healthy as well.
Come see for yourself! Call to schedule a tour and see what our Signature Dining is all about.