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Family Nutrition & Health

Salt Strategies

We’ve all heard the advice that we should cut back on our sodium intake. In 2010, new dietary guidelines set by the Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion, a division of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, recommended reducing the upper limit of our sodium intake from 2,300 mg/day to 1,500 mg/day. Yet most Americans currently ingest more than 3,400 mg/day! And you guessed it, 77% of the sodium in the typical diet comes from processed and restaurant foods.

The big three
Bread, meat and cheese are the most sodium-laden processed foods in our diet. But cutting them out completely is a near impossibility for most families on a budget. Take a look at the sodium content of a typical sandwich:
Top slice of bread – 200 mg
1 teaspoon mustard – 120 mg
1 leaf of lettuce – 2 mg
1 slice of cheese – 310 mg
6 thin slices of turkey – 690 mg
Bottom slice of bread – 200 mg
TOTAL: 1,522 mg of sodium for the whole sandwich – more than a full day’s worth in the new guidelines.

Shaking out a solution
  • Look at the sandwich as an example of the individual choices you make in every meal you create.
  • Remove at least one high-sodium option – or as many as you can without sacrificing taste.
  • Make strategic substitutions with lower sodium bread, low-salt meats and lighter cheeses.
  • Trade saltiness for more flavor from herbs, spices and citrus.
  • Think about every bite you take. If it tastes too salty, it probably is. Eat less of that food and reach for something else.
  • When you cook, add salt at the end of the cooking process to be sure you really need it. Better yet, think of salt as a “finishing touch.”
  • Teens: Step away from the salt shaker! You’re probably getting more than your fill of sodium everywhere else in your diet. Try to eat more whole foods and fewer prepared foods for healthier eating every day.

(Thanks to the Culinary Institute of America for including USAF FitFamily in the Healthy Flavors, Healthy Kids Leadership Summit.)

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