With the start of a new year many people set goals for the year ahead. And often the goals are related to health. One goal that would benefit many of us is to reduce our sodium intake. Americans eat on average about 3,400 mg of sodium per day. However, the Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend adults limit sodium intake to less than 2,300 mg per day. Diets higher in sodium are linked to an increased risk of developing high blood pressure, which is a major cause of stroke and heart disease.
The recommendation of 2300 mg of sodium or less per day is equal to about 1 teaspoon of table salt. However, most of the sodium we eat comes from packaged foods rather than salt we add to food when we are cooking. The Nutrition Facts label is key to knowing how much sodium is in packaged foods. Here are some tips for reading the label:
- Pay attention to the serving size and the number of servings you eat or drink. The amount of sodium listed on the label is for one serving and a food package may contain many servings.
- Use % Daily Value (DV) to see if a serving of food is high or low in sodium. A general guide is that 5% DV or less per serving is considered low and 20% DV or more per serving is high. Compare labels when possible and choose options with lower amounts of sodium. If you choose a food with 20% DV or more, balance that with lower sodium choices throughout the rest of the day.
In addition, check out our video Sodium on the Food Label!