How much salt is too much?

How much salt is too much?

More and more people are making a conscious effort to improve their diet, and that's a good thing. Checking calories and fat on food labels is more common than ever; you may even do it yourself--but do you read the WHOLE label? Do you know how much sodium is in that low-calorie item you're buying? Most Americans consume more than twice as much sodium per day than is recommended. Most of the sodium we consume comes from processed and packaged foods and too much sodium can lead to serious health problems including high blood-pressure, heart attack, stroke and others.

The Broome County Health Department has recently started a campaign that is designed to raise awareness about the dangers of a diet too high in sodium. The Sodium Reduction in Communities Project is hoping to make people more vigilant about the amount of sodium they consume, and to educate the public about what we can do to lower our sodium intake. The campaign suggests that you aim for 1500mg of sodium or less per day as your goal, and here are some recommendations to help you do it:

• Read Labels! Just because something is Low-Cal, or Fat-Free, doesn't mean it's Sodium-Free. Even some items labeled as ‘lower sodium' still contain surprisingly high amounts of sodium.

• Choose plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables. They're good for you for so many reasons, one of them being, they're generally quite low in sodium.

• Order smaller portions from restaurants, or take some home. Many restaurant meals are very high in sodium and unfortunately unless we specifically ask the chef to prepare a low-sodium meal, there's not much we can do about it.

• Ask your grocer about lower sodium alternatives to common items you buy. He may even carry a better option, you just need to know where to look.

If you're making smarter food choices for the sake of you and your family's health, good for you! Just remember to be salt smart, too!