Americans are consuming almost double the daily limit of sodium each day!

According to the government’s 2011 Dietary Guidelines, Americans should be consuming no more than 2,300mg (1 teaspoon) of sodium per day.  However, the average American is ingesting nearly 4,000mg of sodium daily! What’s the big deal? High sodium intake raises blood pressure, and is a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke.  With heart disease being the leading cause of death in the United States, it’s time to put down the salt shaker.

Scientists estimate that we only need 250-500mg of sodium per day, for water balance and electrolyte function, so it’s safe to say that you should be eating less salt.  The leading cause of all the added sodium? Processed and restaurant foods, which pack 75 percent of sodium into the American diet!  Sweet can be salty too, and just because a food doesn’t taste salty, doesn’t mean it’s sodium free.  For example, just one cup of Kellogg’s Raisin Bran packs in 362mg of sodium.  Pair it with a cup of skim milk (125mg sodium), and you’ve had 21 percent of your RDA for sodium in breakfast alone.

The best way to avoid excess sodium is by reading nutrition labels.  Paying attention to sodium content will allow you to avoid foods that are higher in sodium then you may think.  When dining out, order salads with a side of oil and vinegar, instead of sodium filled dressings.   You can also ask for a side of steamed veggies sans salt.   Another way to keep a lid on excess sodium is by preparing your favorite meals at home.  That way you are in control of exactly how much salt is added to your dish.  Cutting back on America’s favorite seasoning will help keep your ticker ticking.

Tanya Zuckerbrot MS, RD, is a nationally known registered dietitian based in New York and the creator of a proprietary high-fiber nutrition program for weight loss, wellness and for treating various medical conditions. Tanya authored the bestselling weight loss book The F-Factor Diet, and she is the first dietitian with a national line of high-fiber foods, which are sold under the F-Factor name. Become a fan of Tanya on Facebook, follow her on Twitter and LinkedIn, and visit her website Ffactor.com.