Concerns about sodium and its link to high blood pressure and heart disease are most commonly found among people who are middle age and older. However, according to the CDC, about 90% of US children ages 6-18 eat too much sodium daily and 1 in 6 children has high blood pressure (source).
When we think about the foods that kids tend to be most fond of this all makes sense. Pizza, cheese and chicken nuggets often include a great deal of sodium. So what can we do? Here are some tips that will help reduce the amount of sodium everyone in your family eats:
- Cook at home as much as possible. Visit the Spend Smart. Eat Smart. recipe site for great home cooking ideas. Restaurant dishes are typically very high in sodium and in most restaurants you can’t see the nutrition information when you order. Many restaurants do have nutrition information on their websites, so you can compare dishes before you go.
- When cooking at home, try different spices and herbs instead of salt.
- Check the Nutrition Facts labels when you buy foods at the grocery store. Choose brands and types with lower sodium. Many will even be marked ‘low sodium’ or ‘no salt added’.
- Eat more foods that are naturally low in sodium like fruits and vegetables.
- Model healthy eating for your family. If you choose healthy foods and tell your children why you make those choices, it is likely they will follow your lead in time.
If you are interested in more detailed information about sodium in children’s diets, the CDC has a helpful website. Visit http://www.cdc.gov/vitalsigns/children-sodium/.