Skip to main content

How (and Why) to Lower Your Sodium Intake

How (and Why) to Lower Your Sodium Intake

Your body needs small amounts of sodium to regulate bodily fluids and the function of your muscles and nerves. But, most Americans get way more sodium than they need. 

On average, Americans take in approximately 3,400 mg of sodium daily. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans advocate for adults to restrict their sodium intake to less than 2,300 mg per day, which equates to roughly one teaspoon of table salt. The recommended limits for children under the age of 14 are even lower.

When you’re looking to improve your health, don’t overlook the importance of regulating your sodium intake. The elevated amount in Americans’ diets is a contributing factor to poor health and chronic diseases, including high blood pressure, heart disease, and stroke. 

At South Plains Rural Health Services, we want to help you maintain a balanced diet for optimal health. Read on to learn more about why reducing sodium intake is essential to good health and get practical tips on how to do so effectively.

The importance of lowering your sodium intake

A lower sodium intake can have real implications on your health in these areas:

Heart health

Research links high sodium intake to elevated blood pressure, a leading risk factor for heart disease and stroke. By reducing sodium intake, you can help lower your blood pressure and protect your heart health.

Kidney function

Excessive sodium consumption can strain your kidneys, potentially leading to kidney stones, kidney disease, and other complications. Lowering sodium intake can help support optimal kidney function.

Bloating and swelling

Sodium attracts water, leading to fluid retention and bloating, especially when you have certain health conditions like heart failure or kidney disease. By reducing sodium intake, you can alleviate symptoms of fluid retention and improve overall comfort.

Bone health

High sodium intake has been associated with calcium loss, which can weaken bones and increase the risk of osteoporosis. By moderating sodium intake, you can help protect bone density and reduce the risk of fractures as you age.

Recommended ways to lower sodium intake

Here are some steps to take to lower your sodium intake:

Read food labels

Start by reading food labels and choosing products lower in sodium. Aim for items labeled "low sodium," "reduced sodium," or "no added salt." Be mindful of hidden sources of sodium, such as processed foods, canned goods, and condiments. Soup, bread, and savory snacks – like chips or snack crackers – are commonly high in sodium.

Eat out less often

Prepare meals from scratch using fresh, whole ingredients whenever possible. This allows you to control the amount of salt added to your food and to experiment with herbs, spices, and other flavorings to enhance taste without relying on salt. 

Limit your intake of processed foods

Processed and packaged foods are often high in sodium as the ingredient can enhance flavor and preserve shelf life. Opt for fresh or frozen fruits and vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains instead of processed snacks, deli meats, and canned soups.

Season with herbs and spices

Experiment with using herbs, spices, citrus juices, and vinegar to add flavor to your meals, so you can reduce your reliance on salt. Your taste buds adapt over time to the more delicate flavors.

Eat out mindfully

When dining out, ask for dishes to be prepared with less salt or request sauces and dressings on the side. Opt for grilled or steamed options over fried or breaded items, which tend to be higher in sodium.

Rinse canned items

If you use canned beans, vegetables, or fish, drain and rinse them under cold water before cooking to remove excess sodium. This simple step can significantly reduce the sodium content of canned foods.

Lowering your sodium intake is a step toward improving your overall health and reducing the risk of chronic diseases like high blood pressure, heart disease, and stroke. 

At South Plains Rural Health Services, we're committed to empowering our entire community to make healthy choices and live their best lives. If you have any questions or need support in managing your sodium intake, don't hesitate to reach out to our team. Call South Plains Rural Health Services, or book online using our scheduling tool.

You Might Also Enjoy...

Who Should Have a Colorectal Screening and How Often?

Who Should Have a Colorectal Screening and How Often?

Colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer worldwide, but it's also highly preventable and treatable when detected early through screening. Here’s when you should schedule these screenings and how often to plan for them.
5 Benefits of Routine Gynecologist Exams

5 Benefits of Routine Gynecologist Exams

Routine gynecologist exams are essential for maintaining optimal reproductive health and well-being. Here, we present just five of the primary benefits of scheduling your annual exam.

Prevent Cavities With Dental Sealants

Some areas of your teeth are harder to clean and more prone to decay. These surfaces benefit from dental sealants, which prevent bacteria from getting into the grooves and causing cavities. Learn why you should consider sealants for your family.

5 Important Ways to Reduce Suicidal Thoughts

If you’ve been or are experiencing suicidal thoughts, feelings, or intentions, read on. We’ve outlined five important steps you can take to help you stay safe and get support to reduce harmful thinking.