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Family Nutrition

Be Salt Savvy

Salt is the primary source of sodium in our diets and shows up in a wide variety of foods – even those that you might not think of as “salty” like ketchup, soft drinks and cereals. Sodium is a leading contributor to high blood pressure which adds to the risk of heart disease and stroke, and has also been linked to an increased risk for osteoporosis and cancer.

According to the 2011 USDA Dietary Guidelines, adults should consume less than 2,300mg of sodium daily – less for those who are at risk of high blood pressure. Children should consume less salt than adults:
  • Less than 1,500mg for 1-3-year olds
  • Less than 1,900mg for those 4-8
  • Less than 2,200mg for 9-13
  • Less than 2,300mg for 14-18-year-olds

One teaspoon of table salt is equivalent to 2,300mg of sodium. Just one teaspoon. Processed and restaurant foods deliver 77% of the sodium in the average American’s diet. Only 10-11% is added from salt shakers on the table.

Monitor your family’s intake

Read nutrition labels on packaged foods, focusing on the serving size.
     • Look at the “% DV” sodium or sodium chloride content
     • If it’s listed as 20% or more – avoid the product
5 – 20% items should be served with caution and portion sizes monitored carefully
     • Items with up to 5% DV are low sodium and acceptable

Understand labels.
     • “
No Salt Added” or “Unsalted” does not mean sodium-free since some foods contain
        naturally occurring sodium. It simply means no salt was added during processing.
             Example: Unsalted butter
     • “
Reduced” or “Less Sodium” products must contain at least 25% less sodium than the
         original item or a competitor’s product.
             Example: Kikkoman Less Sodium Soy Sauce
     • “
Light in Sodium” or “Lightly Salted” products must contain 50% less than the original
        item or a competitor’s product.
             Example: Lays Lightly Salted Potato Chips
     • “
Low Sodium” foods may only have 140mg or less natural or added sodium per serving.
             Example: Nabisco Wheat Thins Hint of Salt

Take control.
     • Take the salt shaker off the table.
     • Flavor foods with herbs, spices, garlic and lemon juice instead of salt.
Build more natural, low-sodium foods into your diet with fresh fruits, vegetables, whole
       grains and beans.
     • Replace salty snacks with unsalted crackers, nuts and fruits.
     • Avoid processed food as often as possible.
     • Select reduced sodium or low sodium packaged foods.
Ask that your restaurant meals be prepared without salt or with very little salt and ask for
       sauces to be served on the side.

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