Sodium: Friend or Foe

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Who doesn’t like some good ol’ turkey bacon every now and then? What about deli meat cut fresh from the meat counter? These foods can fit in anyone’s diet but must be considered with folks trying to limit their sodium intake. The American Heart Association encourages most people to limit sodium intake to around 1500mg or less a day. It may seem like a lot; however it is only 3/4 of a teaspoon.

Sodium has many functions in our food supply. Various forms of sodium, including sodium chloride or salt, are used as preservatives to inhibit the growth of food-borne pathogens (especially in luncheon meats, fermented foods, salad dressings, and cheese products). Sodium is also an essential nutrient used to modify flavor, plus it binds ingredients, enhances color, and serves as a stabilizer.

Ever wonder why the scale says you gained a good 3 pounds over night? Keep in mind that this could very well be associated with your sodium intake the night before…pizza, chips, cheese and sauces are usually loaded with it. The weight gain you experience is fluid gain caused by excess sodium in your diet so it is important to drink plenty of water to flush out the excess.

Here are some ways you can cut back on sodium (your heart and the scale will thank you):

*Choose fresh, frozen or canned food items without added salts
*Limit processed foods like deli meat, hot dog and sausages
*Select unsalted nuts or seeds, beans and peas
*Limit salty snacks like chips and pretzels
*Use spices and herbs to enhance the taste of your food
*Add fresh lemon juice instead of salt to fish and vegetables
*Take the salt shaker off your table!



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