Salt is the common name for sodium chloride used in cooking, food preparation, and food preservation.
As a food ingredient
As a food ingredient, sodium has multiple uses, such as for curing meat, baking, thickening, retaining moisture, enhancing flavor (including the flavor of other ingredients), and as a preservative. Some common food additivesâlike monosodium glutamate (MSG), sodium bicarbonate (baking soda), sodium nitrite, and sodium benzoateâalso contain sodium and contribute (in lesser amounts) to the total amount of âsodiumâ listed on the Nutrition Facts label.
Sodium and Blood Pressure
Sodium attracts water, and a high-sodium diet draws water into the bloodstream, which can increase the volume of blood and subsequently your blood pressure. High blood pressure (also known as hypertension) is a condition in which blood pressure remains elevated over time. Hypertension makes the heart work too hard, and the high force of the blood flow can harm arteries and organs (such as the heart, kidneys, brain, and eyes). Uncontrolled high blood pressure can raise the risk of heart attack, heart failure, stroke, kidney disease, and blindness. In addition, blood pressure generally rises as you get older, so limiting your sodium intake becomes even more important each year.
Tips for Reducing Sodium Consumption
Learning about sodium in foods and exploring new ways to prepare foods can help you achieve your sodium goal. And, if you follow these tips to reduce the amount of sodium you consume, your âtasteâ for sodium will gradually decrease over timeâso eventually, you may not even miss it!
- Read the Nutrition Facts label Compare and choose foods to get less than 100% DV (less than 2,300 mg) of sodium each day.
- Prepare your own food when you can Limit packaged sauces, mixes, and âinstantâ products (including flavored rice, instant noodles, and ready-made pasta).
- Add flavor without adding sodium Limit the amount of salt you add to foods when cooking, baking, or at the table. Try no-salt seasoning blends and herbs and spices instead of salt to add flavor to your food.
- Buy fresh Choose fresh meat, poultry, and seafood, rather than processed varieties. Also, check the package on fresh meat and poultry to see if salt water or saline has been added.
- Watch your veggies Buy fresh, frozen (no sauce or seasoning), or low sodium or no-salt-added canned vegetables.
- Give sodium the ârinseâ Rinse sodium-containing canned foods, such as beans, tuna, and vegetables before eating. This removes some of the sodium.
- âUnsaltâ your snacks Choose low sodium or no-salt-added nuts, seeds, and snack products (such as chips and pretzels)âor have carrot or celery sticks instead.
- Consider your condiments Sodium in condiments can add up. Choose light or reduced sodium condiments, add oil and vinegar to salads rather than bottled dressings, and use only a small amount of seasoning from flavoring packets instead of the entire packet.
- Reduce your portion size Less food means less sodium. Prepare smaller portions at home and consume less when eating outâchoose smaller sizes, split an entrĂ©e with a friend, or take home part of your meal.
- Make lower-sodium choices at restaurants Ask for your meal to be prepared without salt and request that sauces and salad dressings be served âon the side,â then use less of them. You can also ask if nutrition information is available and then choose options that are lower in sodium
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