- Brian Bender, PhD
Am I Eating Too Much Salt? (2 Questions to Ask Yourself)
If you are wondering whether you are eating too much salt, you should first congratulate yourself. Identifying high sodium intake as a major source of global health complications30041-8/fulltext) is an important first step towards a healthy diet.
And most people could stand to eat less. The average daily sodium intake in the U.S. is nearly 3,600 mg, whereas the recommended upper limit is 2,300 mg. Most of us eat more sodium than the recommended limit everyday.
Tracking your sodium intake can be an effective way to gain insight into your regular sodium consumption habits. This can build the knowledge necessary to make changes to your diet, see the results of your tracking efforts, and make adjustments until you are meeting healthy dietary goals.
But in order to make changes to your diet to lower your intake of sodium, there are two questions that can go a long way.
How Often Do you Eat Processed Foods?
Processed foods are a major source of dietary sodium.
There are two major sources of excessive dietary sodium, today. And one of them is processed foods.
Foods often include excessive sodium for taste and for preservation.
If you do buy pre-packaged, processed foods, do your best to find low-sodium options and check nutrition labels.
But an easy way to lower your sodium intake is to simply reduce the amount of pre-packaged, processed foods you are eating. By shifting a higher percentage of your meals from these sources to fresh fruits, vegetables, nuts, legumes, and whole grains, you can rest assured will be consuming less sodium.
How Often Do you Eat Out?
Restaurants are another major source of dietary sodium.
This is the second question.
Most of the excessive sodium we eat comes from processed foods and restaurants.
Just as there are low-sodium processed food options, there are low-sodium restaurant options.
However, just like processed foods, the simple solution to a lower-sodium diet would be to eat out less often.
Ask yourself how often you eat at restaurants, and track this number to keep it top of mind.
If you are reducing this number, like processed foods, you can gradually shift towards a higher percentage of healthy food options instead. By doing so, you will naturally reduce your dietary sodium levels to recommended levels.
Am I Eating Too Much Salt? Conclusion
Sodium is a major constituent of salt. But your salt shaker at home is not likely the problem.
Ask yourself two questions:
How often do I eat processed foods?
How often do I eat at restaurants?
It’s okay to eat these from time to time! Just not all the time!
If you monitor these two things, and aim to reduce the times you eat them, you will win. You will necessarily lower your sodium intake and be well on your way to meeting healthy dietary recommendations and a lower risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, kidney disease, and stroke.
See our list of low-sodium foods!