There is a sodium math poster that has been created especially for learning the measurements of sodium in a graphic view. Today I would like to walk you through some of the information the poster contains. Sodium is one of those food elements that most people don’t know enough about. There’s always a lot of confusion about where sodium comes from in our daily diets. People hear the word sodium and they automatically equate that with salt shaker. However, the salt shaker is only responsible for a tiny amount of the sodium that most people consume each day. Most of the sodium about 75 percent comes from what is present in restaurant meals and packages meals from the grocery store. The sodium math poster is an engaging visual that shows how much sodium we are actually consuming versus how much is the maximum for good health. It’s a bit of a shock to see the big pile of sodium that we eat each day and see the teaspoon of sodium that each food contains to balance that shock, the poster also showcases many fresh foods that are low in sodium. The poster clearly illustrates the lesson that a little work to eat 1,000 mg less sodium per day can make a big change in blood pressure.
The biggest shock is to see how much sodium is in fast foods. Turkey sandwiches sounds healthy, but a turkey deli sandwich has 2,810 mg of sodium. That’s almost a two day supply! Cooking your own meals at home can cut down on some of the sodium we take in. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2015 recommended that just a small shift to lower sodium intake by 1,000mg per day can make a positive impact on lowering blood pressure. This lesson was new and it seems relatively easy to implement. Plus, everyone loves an easy math lesson.
According to the dietary Guidelines for Americans, as sodium intake decreases, so does blood pressure. Keeping blood pressure in the normal range reduces an individual risk of cardiovascular disease, congestive heart failure, and kidney disease. Therefore, people should limit their intake of sodium. One of the most effective ways to reduce the sodium in your diet is to get in the kitchen! Cook food for yourself instead of getting it at a restaurant or from processed packaged items. When you make food from scratch, you have complete control over the sodium content. Try it today.
My plate advised people to look out for salt (sodium) in foods you buy. Compare sodium in foods and choose those with a lower number. This is great advice for your next shopping trip. Compare the nutrition Facts label for similar products and which ones have high levels of sodium per serving? The Daily value (DV) can be very helpful too, because as a general rule 5% or less is low, while 20% or more is high.
Since more than three-fourths of all the sodium that Americans consume comes from packaged and processed foods along with restaurant meals, it makes sense to keep an eye out for sodium while you shop. See if you can limit the number of boxed and frozen meals that you buy. Replace them with fresher alternatives.
Leitha Lee is the EFNEP program assistant for the Expanded Food Nutrition Education Program with the Sampson County Cooperative Extension Center. She can be reached by calling the Extension Office at 910-592-7161.