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Diet Diva
Diet Diva

Get advice on healthy eating, nutrition, and weight loss from expert dietitian Tara Gidus. 

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The Salty Truth

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Food without salt? Sounds gross right? When I work with clients who need to be on a low sodium diet due to medical reasons, I try to find ways to keep their salt intake in check with little tricks and tips instead of cutting salt out completely.  After all, salt does taste good!

When the 2010 Dietary Guidelines came out, a big emphasis was placed on reducing dietary sodium intake. They suggest that adults in general reduce daily sodium intake to less than 2,300 milligrams. However, for all adults 51 years and older and persons of any age who are African American or have high blood pressure, diabetes or chronic kidney disease should reduce daily intake to about 1,500 milligrams a day. Research has shown that too much sodium may increase blood pressure and raise your risk of heart disease, stroke and kidney disease. Heart disease continues to be the leading cause of death in the United States while stroke remains third on the list.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has reported that Americans consume on average 3,400 milligrams of sodium a day. About 90 percent of the sodium we consume is found primarily in packaged, processed, restaurant and fast foods. It’s crazy to think about it, but only a minor amount of sodium actually comes from salt added during cooking or at the table!

Do your heart a favor and consider these simple ways for reducing sodium in your diet:

  • Choose foods that are lower in sodium by using the Nutrition Facts label to compare similar products. For instance, limit high sodium foods such as frozen meals, pizza, packaged meals and mixes, cured and processed meat and poultry, canned soups or broths, ready-to-eat foods and salad dressings.
  • Flavor foods with sodium-free seasonings that are made from herbs and spices such as onion, garlic, cilantro, dill, basil, ginger and rosemary.
  • Purchase fresh, frozen or canned "no salt added” or “lower sodium" vegetables. If you do buy canned vegetables that contain some salt, rinse them off before consuming.
  • When using soy sauce, choose the Less Sodium Kikkoman Soy Sauce.
  • Cook rice and pasta without adding salt to the water.

Did You Know?

Table salt and sea salt have the same basic nutritional value. Even though they differ in taste, texture, and processing, both are sodium chloride and contain approximately 2,300 milligrams of sodium per teaspoon. Table salt is extracted from underground salt deposits and is extensively processed removing trace minerals. The final product usually contains an anti-clumping additive and iodine. Sea salt is minimally processed through evaporation of sea water, retaining trace elements and minerals which enhances the flavor and color. While you may prefer sea salt because of the taste and texture, keep in mind it is still salt and by weight, has about the same amount of sodium as table salt.

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About the Author


MS, RD, CSSD, LD/N

Tara Gidus is a nationally recognized expert and spokesperson on nutrition and fitness.

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