Most people are well aware of the link between sodium and high blood pressure.
The preference for salty foods is an acquired taste. Unlike our inborn preference for sweetness, we aren’t born with a “salty tooth.”
We all need some sodium in our diet, but not as much as most people consume. The daily value for sodium from all sources is 2,400 milligrams. That’s about the amount of sodium in one teaspoon of salt, including sodium from processed food and salt you add yourself.
Sodium, along with potassium and chloride, is an electrolyte. Keeping our electrolytes at the proper level is a balancing act.
Sodium plays a major role in moving fluids inside and outside of our cells, in transmitting nerve impulses and relaxing our muscles. Our body tries to rid itself of excess sodium through perspiration or urine.
Our kidneys play a major role in maintaining the proper sodium balance by excreting extra sodium, along with fluid, in the urine. We often feel thirsty as a result.
Most people are well aware of the link between sodium and high blood pressure. Some people, however, are more sensitive to sodium than others.
Salty foods are all around us, so try these tips to keep your sodium intake in check:
Read labels to compare the sodium content of various foods, especially convenience foods, soups and snacks.
Choose fresh poultry, fish and lean meat instead of highly processed types.
Cook pasta, hot cereal and rice without added salt.
Reduce the amount of salt you add to foods. Use herbs, spices and salt-free seasoning blends at the table and in cooking.
– Julie Garden-Robinson, PhD, L. R. D., is a North Dakota State University
Extension Service food and nutrition specialist and associate professor in the
department of health, nutrition and exercise sciences.