Cutting down on sodium can help your heart, your kidneys, your waistline and even your bank account. Don't know how to get started? Just follow this advice from the ALL YOU Diet Coach, Dawn Jackson Blatner, RD.
Step 1: Shop Smarter at The Grocery Store
Salt enhances the flavor and texture of foods and acts as a preservative—which is why it's so prevalent in processed foods. Ingredients such as MSG and baking soda add small amounts of sodium, too. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is creating sodium guidelines for the food industry, and a number of companies are already on the case. Walmart, for example, is working with some suppliers to cut sodium by 25 percent by next year. In the meantime, it's easy to sleuth out sodium if you pay attention to the food you put in your cart.
KNOW YOUR NUMBERS: Look at the "Daily Value" of sodium listed on the nutrition lable. Here are the numbers to go by:
• 20% or more of daily value: Skip any food with 480mg or more. Look for a lower-sodium swap, or pass on it entirely.
• 5% to 20% of daily value: Limit foods that have 120mg to 480mg. Eat them only in moderation.
• 5% or less of daily value: Go for foods that contain 120mg or less. These are great choices to enjoy.
KNOW YOUR LABEL LINGO:
• Salt-Free/Sodium-Free/No Sodium: Less than 5mg of sodium per serving
• Very Low Sodium: 35mg or less of sodium per serving
• Low Sodium: 140mg or less of sodium per serving
• Reduced or Less Sodium: At least 25 percent less sodium per serving than the regular product.
• Unsalted or No Salt Added: No salt has been introduced during processing—but that doesn't mean it's a sodium-free food. Check the nutrition facts panel to be sure.