Time To Reduce Sodium Levels

The Lempert Report
September 27, 2018

According to the American Heart Association, the average American consumes around 3,400 milligrams of sodium daily.

If you are a viewer of our weekly food reviews you know how I’ve been rallying companies to reduce their sodium levels for years. According to the American Heart Association, the average American consumes around 3,400 milligrams of sodium daily. Considerably more than the 2015 Dietary Guidelines recommendation of less than 2,300 milligrams. For at least half the population, the recommendation is even lower: For people older than 50; people with kidney disease, diabetes or high blood pressure; and people of black or Hispanic heritage, the recommendation is just 1,500 milligrams. But unfortunately the debate and fight continues on.

The truth is that our bodies do need some sodium to function properly. But only about 500 milligrams a day is enough to prevent dehydration and to keep our muscles and nervous systems healthy. 

Too much sodium can pull water into our blood vessels, expanding blood volume and raising blood pressure. Eventually, the strain of extra pressure damages blood vessels, making them more likely to develop plaques that can cut off blood flow to the heart or brain, resulting in a heart attack or stroke.Nearly half of all Americans (46 percent) are now considered to have high blood pressure.

 Here are some tips to share with your shoppers:

Cook at home most of the time. When you do eat out, watch your portion sizes and make healthier choices.

Exercise regularly. Aim for 30 minutes per day, most days of the week.

Lose weight if you are overweight or obese. Losing just five to 10 percent of your body weight could improve your overall health.

Eat potassium-rich foods at every meal. Examples include avocado, spinach, potato, sweet potato, apricots, bananas, watermelons and beans.

Choose minimally processed foods most of the time and read those nutritional labels to see just how much sodium is in the foods you buy. Too much? Choose an alternative. Aim for less than 300 mg of sodium per serving – and make sure the serving size is appropriate to how much you will actually consume.