HEALTHY DIET: MAKING YOUR LOW-SALT DIET PERMANENT
Wherever you eat - at home, in a restaurant, or on the road on business - keep the following tips for low-sodium eating in mind:
Limit your intake to a daily average of approximately 1 milligram of sodium per calorie, up to a maximum of 1,600 milligrams a day. For example, if you were consuming about 1,600 calories a day, that would amount to approximately 1,600 milligrams of sodium.
Minimize your intake of highly refined and processed foods, which are usually not only high in sodium but also low in potassium (as well as in magnesium and calcium, which, with potassium, may also be essential for regulating blood pressure).
Potassium is found in all fruits and vegetables, although bananas, apples, oranges, honeydew, cantaloupe, apricots, and mushrooms contain the most.
When choosing "convenience" foods - whether canned, frozen, bottled, or boxed - avoid highly salted, smoked, and pickled items, which are high in sodium, and shop for low-sodium alternatives.
Any items that offer ingredient and nutrition information are now required by the federal government to spell out the sodium content in milligrams per serving. Also, all food products that make a controlled-sodium claim must conform to the following Food and Drug Administration standards for labeling:
"Sodium-free" means the product contains less than 5 milligrams of sodium per serving.
"Very Low Sodium" means no more than 35 milligrams per serving.
"Low Sodium" has no more than 140 milligrams of sodium per serving.
"Reduced Sodium" has 75 percent less sodium than its regular counterpart.
"No Salt Added" means that no extra salt has been added for flavor, but it still may have been processed with salt or sodium compounds.
These claims, particularly "No Salt Added," can be very misleading, so be sure to read the entire label to avoid being confused.
Watch your intake not only of table salt (sodium chloride), but also of sea salt; kelp; baking soda; baking powder; onion, garlic, and celery salt; monosodium glutamate (MSG); sodium saccharin, sodium nitrate, sodium propionate, and any other ingredient with "sodium" in its name. The same "watch" applies to ketchup, chili sauce, barbecue sauce, Worcestershire sauce, capers, cooking wines, and miso. Even sodium-reduced soy sauce and tamari are highly salted, as are most prepared mustards, so we suggest using no more than a teaspoon of such seasonings a day.
If you are in training for sports or do any heavy exercise, do not add more salt to your meals, and do not take salt tablets.