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what does sodium do for the body woman and food

What Does Sodium Do for the Body?

We’ve all heard how Americans consume too much sodium. But what does sodium do for the body? Maybe you’ve even stopped salting your food, but did you know salt and sodium are not the same? Salt (sodium chloride) is a crystal-like compound found in nature while sodium is a mineral found in salt.

What Does Sodium Do for the Body?

Your body needs only a small amount of the saltiest of minerals, sodium, to maintain fluid balance and keep muscles and nerves running efficiently. As a food ingredient, it’s used for curing meat, thickening sauces, enhancing flavor and preserving food. On food labels you might see variations of sodium such as monosodium glutamate (MSG) or sodium nitrite, among others.

Since sodium attracts water and a high-sodium diet draws water into the bloodstream, it can increase blood pressure, making the heart work too hard and harming other organs. While cutting back on table salt is a start, cutting back on sodium can be challenging since it’s found in so many unsuspecting food sources that don’t even taste salty.

Hidden Food Sources of Sodium

About 70% of the sodium in the American diet comes from processed and packaged foods. When reducing sodium, steer clear of these foods and select fresh fruits and vegetables. You could even browse our online store for more food or supplemental alternatives instead.

  • Frozen meals
  • Breads, biscuits, pastries
  • Macaroni and cheese
  • Canned foods
  • Pizza
  • Deli meat
  • Cured meats like ham and hot dogs
  • Canned soups
  • Burritos, tacos, tortillas
  • Crunchy snack foods like potato chips, pretzels, popcorn
  • Chicken (includes processed chicken)
  • Condiments, sauces and dressings
  • Processed cheese
  • Cereals
  • Regular and diet soda
  • Instant pudding
  • Broths

How Much Sodium is Healthy?

On average, Americans consume about 3,400 mg of the mineral sodium per day, but guidelines are for less than 2,300 mg per day, preferably no more than 1,500 mg. day. Be sure to carefully read nutrient labels on food. Use the percent of Daily Value (%DV) as a guide and choose to get less than 100% DV of sodium. Basically, 5% DV or less of sodium per serving is considered low, and 20% DV or more of sodium per serving is considered high. Be sure to pay attention to serving size as it is probably much less than you think and, as always, seek advice from your healthcare practitioner about what’s right for you.

These statements have not been evaluated by the Food & Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. Individual results may vary.

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