Sodium Intake

5/13/2008 There's a potential hazard in your food you may be unaware of. It can lurk where you might not even detect it. It's salt.

Gayle Williams, Consumer Reports, says "The average American consumes nearly double the recommended maximum daily allowance of sodium. That's not a good thing, because a high sodium diet can lead to heart attack, stroke, or kidney disease."

The recommended daily sodium intake, according to experts, is less than 2,300 milligrams of sodium per day, the amount in about one teaspoon of salt. People with elevated blood pressure should aim for no more than 1,500 milligrams.

A major problem is restaurant and processed foods, which make up at least 75% of Americans' daily sodium intake.

Williams says, "It can be hard to cut back on sodium, because it's in a lot of foods you wouldn't expect, including something like pudding."

That's right, pudding. The mix needed to make one-half cup of this Jell-O lemon instant pudding contains a hefty 310 milligrams of sodium. A half-cup of Friendship 1% low fat cottage cheese contains 360 milligrams of sodium. And one cup of this Post Raisin Bran has 300 milligrams of sodium!

"The packaging may say less sodium but you really need to look at labels and make sure you're picking food that has a lower sodium content per serving," says Williams.

Compare Newman's own lighten up balsamic vinaigrette dressing to Annie's naturals organic. One serving of Newman's has 470 milligrams of sodium, while Annie's has just 75 milligrams.

By cutting down on the sodium you eat in restaurant food, processed foods, and home cooking; you can retrain your taste buds so you won't even miss it.

Other ways to cut down on sodium: get any sauces or dressing on the side. And in general, it's good to avoid "sodium heavy" foods like bacon and other cured meats, and use condiments like ketchup, barbecue and steak sauces sparingly.

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