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How Much Salt Is “Too Much?”

Community Health Association Richmond MA, Community Health Association West Stockbridge MA

Emilie Jarrett RN, BSN
Director of The Community Health Association

Some Ideas On Lower Salt Intake

Our bodies need a small amount of sodium in our diets to function properly. Sodium:

  • Helps maintain the right balance of fluids in your body.
  • Helps transmit nerve impulses.
  • Influences the contraction and relaxation of muscles.

How much sodium do we need? Various organizations, including the National Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Medicine, have published recommendations on daily sodium limits. Most recommend not exceeding the range of 1,500 and 2,400 milligrams (mg) a day for healthy adults. Keep in mind that the lower your sodium, the more beneficial effect on blood pressure.

Community Health Association Richmond MA, Community Health Association West Stockbridge MA

If you are older than 50, are black or have a health condition such as high blood pressure, chronic kidney disease or diabetes, you may be more sensitive to the blood pressure raising effects of sodium. As a result, aim for a sodium limit at the low end of the range recommended for healthy adults. Talk to your doctor about the sodium limit that’s best for you. Below are some tips to help you in maintaining the proper amount of sodium intake:

  • Remove the salt shaker from the table and stove.
  • Avoid adding salt to cooking water.
  • Add flavor with salt-free herbs, lemon, lime juice, or vinegar.
  • Use plain garlic and onion powder instead of salted versions.
  • Read labels on canned, packaged, and frozen foods.
  • Rinse canned vegetables before eating them.

Snacking suggestions: Choose low salt foods for snacking, such as, yogurt, fresh fruit and vegetables, frozen juice bars or sherbet, air popped unsalted popcorn, and unsalted chips, pretzels, and crackers.