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Enhancing Flavor Without Sodium!

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2015-2020 recommend that Americans consume less than 2,300 milligrams (mg) per day as part of a healthy eating pattern. One teaspoon of salt contains about 2,300 milligrams of sodium.

American’s love their salt!!  Have you ever caught yourself watching people eat?  The waitress brings the individual their order and before they taste the food they reach for the salt shaker and start shaking!!  Yes, adding more sodium to food that may not need it.  Does this sound familiar?  How much sodium does a person really need per day to survive? Your body needs only a small amount of sodium.  According to the American Heart Association (AHA), the minimum requirement for sodium is less than 500 mg a day — or less than the amount in one quarter of one teaspoon of table salt.  What is the daily recommended about of sodium?   According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2015-2020 recommend that Americans consume less than 2,300 milligrams (mg) per day as part of a healthy eating pattern. For those with existing hypertension or pre-hypertension (mildly elevated blood pressure, which often precedes development of hypertension), the recommendation is lowered to less than 1,500 mg of sodium per day; this is the amount of sodium in ¾ of a teaspoon of salt.  The estimated average intake of sodium for all Americans ages two years and older is an average of more than 3,400 mg each day.

Sodium in teaspoons

To help you relate how much sodium you are consuming let’s compare weight in teaspoons.

  • One teaspoon of salt contains about 2,300 milligrams of sodium,
  • One-third teaspoon of salt has 1,000 mg sodium and
  • One-fourth teaspoon of salt has 500 mg sodium.

    1 teaspoon of salt has 2,300mg. of sodium

    Hopefully this will give you a better understanding of the amount of sodium you are consuming and the amount you need to consume!!  Also let’s keep in mind this is the total amount you consume in a day’s time not just the amount you shake from the salt shaker!

Salt and Sodium
  • Salt is 40 percent sodium, 60 percent chlorine and 100 percent delicious.
  • Sodium is a mineral needed in small amounts by our bodies to work proper

Sodium helps with fluid balance, nerve function, and muscle action. You must keep in mind if we eat too much sodium, it can be unhealthy for your body.  You get most of your sodium from the foods we eat in the form of salt (sodium chloride). This includes salt added to food during cooking and at the table and salt already in foods.  As a food ingredient, salt has multiple uses:  in curing meat, baking, masking off-flavors, retaining moisture, and enhancing flavor. Salt added at the table and in cooking provides only a small proportion of the total sodium that Americans consume. Usually most sodium in the diet comes from salt added during food processing. Of the 3,400 mg of sodium the average American consumes every day, about 71 percent (or roughly 2,400 mg) comes from added salt in processed and prepared foods.

Use Food Labels to Track Sodium Intake

The amount of sodium in a food can be found on the nutrition label.  Sodium is given in milligrams per serving and as a percent of the Daily Value.  If a person eats two servings of a food item they need to double the amount of sodium listed on the Nutrition Facts per serving size.

  • “Sodium free”—less than 5 mg. of sodium per serving and contains no sodium chloride.
  • “Salt free” –the product meets requirements for “sodium free”,

    Variety of breads in a basket

  • “Very low sodium”—35 mg. of sodium or less per serving and
  • “Low sodium”—140 mg. of sodium or less per serving

The top sources of sodium in the U.S. diet include breads and rolls, deli meats, pizza, poultry, soups, sandwiches, cheese, pasta dishes, crackers, processed cheeses, salted, smoked, or cured meats, pickled or canned fish, canned soups, salty snacks, pickles, sauerkraut and relishes, some condiments and prepared entrees, dinners, and vegetables with sauces.  People who consciously avoid cooking with salt or sprinkling it across their dinner plates but consume of these food items may be taking in more sodium than they think.

Think Before You Reach for the Salt Shaker

Sweet Basil

Be aware of the amount of sodium in your diet by reading food labels and STOP and THINK Before You Reach for the SALT SHAKER!  Reach for an herb or spice the next time you start reaching for the salt shaker!  Herbs enhance the flavor of food just like salt. Herbs and spices have been used for hundreds of years in cooking and medicine.  They add wide ranges of flavors to food without adding any extra calories, and may also provide health benefits.  Request an herb chart from the UF/IFAS Extension, Alachua County Office and start reducing the sodium in your diet!  Also watch for future blogs on enhancing your flavor palate with different herbs.

For more information contact your local UF/IFAS Extension Office https://sfyl.ifas.ufl.edu/find-your-local-office/

Other Resources:

Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2015-2020  https://health.gov/sites/default/files/2019-09/2015-2020_Dietary_Guidelines.pdf

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