Welcome to Week 18 of Our Get Healthy Challenge! If you're just joining us, here is what you missed so far - so you can get all caught up. This series is running for the next six months with pro nutritionists, The GetReal Gurls. They are helping us make small changes every week that build upon each weekly task. Our challenge this week?
Sizing up you Sodium Intake.
This week's challenge calls for sticking it to sodium! But wait, we need sodium don’t we? In fact sodium, aka salt, is an essential nutrient that helps regulate blood pressure and blood volume among other important roles in our bodies. The fact is, we only need a little, yet in North America we get A LOT – way too much in fact (double and triple the amount we need)! Too much sodium leads to chronic diseases, notably high blood pressure which is one of the top killers.
How much sodium do we actually need? 1500 mg per day is the recommended amount for adults (this is equivalent to about 2/3 teaspoon of salt).
Where does it lurk? Now this requires you to be a bit of a detective as most of our sodium intake comes from processed foods and hidden salts (aka foods that don’t taste salty but are – like cereal, bread and baked goods) – so check ALL labels. Notoriously salty foods include canned foods, frozen meals, salty snacks, pickled foods, processed meats, cheeses, sauces and fast food/restaurant meals. A general rule of thumb is to look for foods with less than 200 mg of sodium per serving.
About 30% of salt in our diet also comes from the salt we add at the dinner table so watch out for that too. Use pepper, lemon, herbs and spices for seasoning instead.
Here’s your Do it! Post it! Challenge for the week:
Do it! Size up all the foods in your cupboard and at the grocery store and look for foods with less sodium. Pair saltier foods (like a pre-seasoned chicken breast) with low sodium sides like cooked vegetables and rice. Get rid of your salt shaker.
Post it! How many of the foods in your cupboard have less than 200 mg of sodium per serving? Are you surprised to find any foods with hidden salt?
- A & M, www.getrealgurlsnutrition.com