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Sodium controls fluid balance and blood pressure in the body. A diet high in sodium may raise blood pressure which can cause fluid retention. This results in swelling of the legs and feet. Water may also collect around the lungs causing shortness of breath.

The average American eat 5 times as much sodium as they need.

The goal for sodium intake is 2000-2400mg per day

A teaspoon of salt contains 2400mg. Your body only needs one fourth of this each day and you easily get this much in your daily food selections. Salt is found naturally in many foods however a lot is added during processing and preparation. Manufacturers must list sodium content on labels so read these carefully.

To reduce your sodium intake use the following guidelines:

  • If you currently salt foods in cooking and at the table, eliminate salt during cooking. Use the salt shaker at the table only sparingly and continue to decrease your intake over time.
  • Avoid salt substitutes that are made with potassium
  • Be creative!! Season your foods with herbs and spices, lemon or lime juice, Tabasco or other hot sauces, garlic, and onions.
  • Eat more home cooked foods. Foods made from scratch are naturally low in sodium and you are in control of how much sodium is added.
  • Avoid softened water for cooking and drinking since it contains extra salt.

High sodium foods to avoid

  • Smoked, cured, salted or canned meat, fish, poultry including bacon, cold cuts, ham, frankfurters, sausages, sardines, caviar, and anchovies
  • Frozen breaded meats and dinners such as burritos, pizzas, etc.
  • Canned soups, chili, ravioli, spaghetti, etc.
  • Salted nuts
  • Buttermilk
  • Regular and processed cheese, cheese spreads, and sauces
  • Salted crackers, chips, and popcorn
  • Prepackaged processed mixes for potatoes, rice, pasta, and stuffing
  • Canned vegetables
  • Olives, pickles, and sauerkraut
  • Pasta mixes
  • Most TV dinners and frozen entrees (read labels)

Low sodium foods that are good for you

  • Fresh or frozen meats (not breaded) – beef, pork, lamb, chicken, turkey, and fish
  • Eggs
  • Small amounts of peanut butter
  • Unsalted nuts
  • Milk, yogurt, ice cream, sherbet, sorbets, popsicles
  • Cream cheese, ricotta and mozzarella
  • Bread, bagels, English muffins, and rolls
  • Muffins
  • Most ready to eat cereals (read the labels for sodium content)
  • Rice
  • Pasta
  • Corn and flour tortillas
  • Crackers with unsalted tops
  • Unsalted popcorn and pretzels
  • Fresh and frozen vegetables and fruits-try to eat at least 5 servings per day
  • Fresh potatoes-some frozen varieties may be ok, read the labels)
  • All fresh or frozen fruit
  • Fruit juices
  • Low sodium tomato or V-8 Juice
  • Homemade or low sodium canned soups
  • Small amounts of bottled salad dressing
  • Salted butter or margarine
  • Cakes, pies, and cookies (unless diabetic)
  • Garlic or onion powder