The USDA announced Monday the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010, which are the dietary recommendations set forth by the government. These guidelines are reviewed and updated every five years based on the latest scientific evidence and research. While a little late (it is now 2011!), the guidelines contain a wealth of good nutrition advice.
One of the most drastic and most publicized changes to the guidelines are the recommendations on daily sodium (salt) intake. The Dietary Guidelines specify significantly smaller amounts: 2,300 mg for healthy adults and 1,500 mg for African American adults, adults 51+, and anyone suffering form hypertension, diabetes, or chronic kidney disease. To put those numbers into perspective, 1 teaspoon of salt is 2,300 mg and 1,500 mg of sodium is equal to a little over a 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Sodium is found in lots of convenience foods like canned soups, canned vegetables, boxed rice and pasta mixes, frozen dinners, and more.
So, how can consumers reduce their salt intake to meet the new dietary guidelines? Try these tips from our new Salt poster and tablet to shake the habit:
• Prepare your own foods. Food from restaurants and convenience foods typically has a lot of salt. When you cook your own food, you control how much salt you add.
• Choose fresh foods over processed foods. Fresh fruits, vegetables, and meats are naturally lower in sodium than canned or processed foods.
• Choose low-sodium canned goods. If you buy processed foods, check the label and pick foods with the lowest level of sodium.
• Use herbs and spices to flavor foods. Fresh or dried herbs, spices, vinegar, and citrus to season to your foods instead of reaching for the saltshaker
• Limit foods with more than 200 mg of sodium per serving. Read the Nutrition Facts label for the serving size and consider how many servings you actually eat.
• Use less salt. Gradually cut back on the amount of salt you add to your food. Your taste buds will adjust and you may even prefer less salt.