Sodium is an essential nutrient, but you don’t need much in your diet.
No need to totally omit Sodium foods in your diet as your body uses Sodium for various body functions daily but excess will harm your health as it is linked to uncontrolled blood pressure.
Limit Sodium and Save your heart.
Sodium increases blood pressure because it holds excess fluid in the body, creating an added burden on your heart.
Too much sodium therefore increases your risk for stroke, heart failure, osteoporosis, and stomach cancer and kidney disease.
Sodium naturally occurs in food in small amounts and we get additional from common salt when added to our food. This is the reason as to why we should not have a salt shaker considering that we obtain enough sodium from the varieties of foods that we eat.
Are you eating excess Sodium?
The body needs only a small amount of sodium (averagely 1,500 milligrams per day) to function properly, this amount is less than a teaspoon. It adds up fast! since there are many sources of Sodium other than table salt.
Sodium can be sneaky as if is a part of so many foods and food additives.
- Take bread, for example. One piece can have up to 230 milligrams of sodium.
- Using just a teaspoon of certain curry powders gives you over 1500mgs ( beyond your day’s requirement without including the other foods you will be eating).
- Salt is added to foods both as a preservative( Sodium based eg Sodium Benzoate) and because it improves the flavor so most of us add alot of it. Processed foods such as soups, canned foods, tomato ketchup, mayonnaise, preserved meats (sausage, hot dogs, some poultry) are the biggest sources of sodium in the diet.
- Additionally, snack foods can be very high in salt i.e chips, nuts, hardcorn, popcorns, even sauces such as soy that are added to foods.
Tips to control Sodium Intake
- Replace processed meats (sausages), refined carbohydrates and salted snacks with healthier options like fruit.
- Use herbs like rosemary and natural spices like tumeric to enhance food taste without having to add excess salt.
- Use lemon juice and salt-free herbs and spices, such as garlic and pepper, to flavor your food instead of sauces and pre packaged seasonings.
- Limit added salt while cooking, and taste food first before salting at the table.
- Use Potassium salts instead of the normal table salt (Sodium Chloride). However, there are health conditions like kidney failure where Potassium may be restricted.
- Take natural juices as most processed drinks have Sodium based preservatives and flavors. Read the label for Sodium content information.
- Do not put a salt shaker on your dinner table.
- Do not even own a salt shaker. Please note that it is easy to exceed salt requirement when added at table as you add salt to what was added during cooking. It is also important for cooks to ensure salt is added in moderation.
Note: individuals with medical conditions may need more detailed guidance and meal planning.
Consult a Dietitian to review your Sodium intake. Keeping sodium in check is part of following an overall healthy eating pattern. You can learn more on other key nutrients to include in your daily meals for a healthier you.
Written by Dietitian Nantege Regina and Nankunda Ronnah
Qualifications: Bachelor of Science in Human Nutrition and Dietetics