Tanya's Tasty Tips: The Hidden Truths of Sodium

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Sodium is a mineral that helps the body regulate blood pressure, muscle and nerve function. For healthy people, the government recommends no more the 2,400 mg of sodium per day, which is equivalent to 1 tsp. of salt.

However the average American adult consumes about 4,000 mg of sodium per day. Up to 75 percent of the daily sodium intake in the United States comes from salt in processed foods and restaurant meals. Diets high in sodium are linked to fluid retention and high blood pressure, factors that lead to an increased risk for heart attack and stroke. More than 50 million people in America, that's one in every four people have high blood pressure.

Here are some food comparisons_

• 1 cup of Prego spaghetti sauce has 1,320mg of sodium whereas 35 saltine crackers has 1,330mg of sodium • 1 cup of cottage cheese has 840mg of sodium whereas 40 pretzels has 800mg of sodium • 1 cup of Cheerios has 280mg of sodium whereas 1 oz. of Lay's potato chips has 180mg of sodium • 1 V8 has 664mg of sodium whereas 6 cans of Coke have 54mg of sodium • 2 slices of white bread has 280mg of sodium whereas 1 jar of dry roasted peanuts has less then 10mg of sodium • 1 chocolate pudding has 470mg of sodium whereas a small order of McDonald's French fries has 135mg of sodium

Here are some helpful tips to reduce sodium intake:

• Stop adding extra salt to the food on your plate • Try using fresh herbs and spices while cooking for added flavor • Choose fresh foods when possible • Choose foods that say "low sodium" on the package they have 140mg of sodium or less per serving • Select fat-free or low-fat milk, low-fat cheeses, as well as low-fat yogurt.

The bottom line is that you need a food label, not your taste buds, to tell how much sodium you are getting.

Tanya Zuckerbrot, MS, RD

is a nutritionist and the creator of The F-Factor DietaC/, an innovative nutritional program she has used for more than ten years to provide hundreds of her clients with all the tools they need to achieve easy weight loss and maintenance, improved health and well-being. For more information log onto