Here is a comprehensive list of foods that are low in sodium content. When looking to reduce your sodium intake you should always look at the nutrition fact labels on food items and determine if the foods you’re consuming are low in sodium. Also always check with your physician or health professional before you change your diet.
By most standards the below foods are considered “Low-Sodium Foods”. These are low sodium as long as you don’t add any salt or seasonings containing sodium. Again, always check the labels if these are packaged or canned foods. Look for the words “No Salt Added” or “Reduced Sodium”.
What is Sodium?
Listening to the news, talk shows and even health professionals we get an understanding that sodium is unhealthy. Is this true, is sodium bad for us? What is Sodium and how much should we have in our daily diet?
Sodium is a mineral that when combined with chloride results in one of the most widely used ingredients in the world. This ingredient is table salt. The chemical notation for sodium is Na+.
The fact is, too much sodium is unhealthy and may cause health problems if we don’t change our sodium intake. However your body needs some sodium to function properly. Sodium helps with many of your basic everyday functions including controlling the proper amounts of fluids in our body and contraction and relaxation of muscles. Basically sodium is an essential part of our everyday lives.
Our bodies regulate the amount of sodium through the kidneys. The kidneys will store sodium when levels are low and excrete sodium when levels are high. When the levels get too high the kidneys cannot excrete enough causing the sodium to go somewhere else, your blood. During this process your blood volume actually increases causing the heart to work harder. Over time this may lead to health problems including stroke, kidney disease and even heart disease. Some people are more sensitive to increased sodium levels than others.
How Much Sodium Per Day?
Most people are surprised to find that The 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends you consume less than 2,300 mg of sodium per day and less than 1,500 mg for persons over 50 years in age. It all depends on age and of course current health, but this is an average. 2,300 mg is equivalent to about 1 tsp of table salt. You should always consult a health professional to see how much sodium is right for you. People with high blood pressure may require an amount much less while some active athletes may be ok with more.
Foods High In Sodium
Now that we know a little more about sodium we need to determine if the foods we eat contain high sodium levels. Just because you decide not to use table salt with your meal does not mean this food is low in sodium.
Here are some examples of foods high in sodium.
• Table Salt
• Most Soups and Gravies
• Many Salad Dressings and Sauces
• Processed Meats
• Many Cheeses
• Processed Snack Foods
• Most Fast Food Meals
Do you notice a trend here? Today more than ever we eat processed and fast foods. Even though we are not adding the salt ourselves it is already there in large quantity as preservatives and to enhance the flavor.
A good way to tell if the foods you’re eating contain high amounts of sodium is by checking the nutrition fact labels. First look at the serving size. If you consume this amount of the given food item, you are consuming the amount of sodium listed. If you consume more than the suggested serving size, you are consuming more sodium as well. It’s best to look for the “% Daily Value” portion of the label. Go down to sodium and see the percent listed. Items that are 5% or less are considered low sodium foods. If the label states the item is 20% or higher, than it’s best to stay away from those foods if you are trying to lower your sodium intake. Also avoid adding your own table salt to your meals. Always try to choose foods that say “No salt added” or “reduced sodium”.