Salt and Sodium: Do You Know the Difference?
Video by Jonathan Parrish
Although people tend to use the terms salt and sodium interchangeably, salt and sodium are two different things.
Sodium is a mineral that is essential to life. Table salt by weight contains about 40% sodium and 60% chloride.
The American Heart Association says 9 out of 10 Americans eat too much sodium, but surprisingly, the saltshaker isn’t the culprit. About 70% of the sodium we consume comes from processed, pre-packaged, and restaurant foods. A diet high in sodium can increase the risk for high blood pressure.
Consider taking these steps to reduce your sodium intake:
- Know the salty six: Pizza, sandwiches, soups, bread and rolls, cold cuts and cured meats, and burritos and tacos. Watch your portions when you do eat these items.
- Read the nutrition facts label, and choose products with the lowest percent daily value (DV). Items with 5% or less per serving of sodium are considered low-sodium foods.
- Prepare more meals at home. Season with spices, herbs, and citrus to boost the flavor. Try making your own salt-free seasonings with the recipes in Extension publication 3586, “Nutrition and Wellness Salt-Free Spice Blends.”
- Look for reduced or low-sodium versions of condiments. Ketchup, soy sauce, salad dressings, and pickles can be sky-high in sodium.
- Ask for light seasonings at restaurants. Many restaurants have options for low-sodium seasonings, but you have to ask.
When it comes to sodium, keep these things in mind:
- The American Heart Association recommends adults consume no more than 2,300 milligrams (mg) a day. For optimal health, the AHA recommends moving toward an ideal limit of no more than 1,500 mg per day for most adults.
- Check ingredient lists for words like “sodium,” “salt,” and “soda.” The total sodium shown on the Nutrition Facts label includes the sodium from salt and sodium from any other sodium-containing ingredient in the product.
Bottom line: Sodium can be found in foods that don't even taste salty.
For more helpful tips like these, visit extension.msstate.edu and join our Nutrition and Wellness Facebook group.
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