Sodium—that's salt—seems like it would be a straightforward topic. You sprinkle some on your food for the extra yum, right? But it turns out how much salt you use when cooking or what types of foods you eat is a complex question—one that medical experts have actually changed their mind about several times.
Seniors have lived through this type of changing stance on food before. You might remember, for example, that food experts have changed their minds on ingredients such as fats, eggs and milk a number of times. But just because the best practices change periodically as medical providers learn more doesn't mean that there aren't some good limitations to be had for food intake.
And there definitely are some rules to pay attention to with salt or sodium. If you're worried about sodium intake, the first thing you should do is speak with your provider about specific needs for your body and health. You can also reach out to the staff at Grand Villa assisted living community in Grand Junction, CO. Individual care plans, nutrition advice and help monitoring chronic conditions are just some of the wellness amenities we offer.
We've also gathered some information about seniors and sodium for you to check out below.
If you read labels, you'll see that the amount of sodium in food is typically listed. It also shows you what percent of your daily values of sodium a serving of the food is. That percentage is based on the current recommendation of 2,300mg a day of sodium. That's the recommendation for healthy adults of any age.
However, it's interesting to know that the American Heart Association is edging toward a lower ideal sodium goal for adults. The AHA sometimes recommends 1,500mg max a day of sodium.
To give you an idea of how little that really is, a teaspoon of table salt has around 2,325mg of sodium.
Again, these are only general recommendations, though. Make sure to consult with your healthcare providers to understand how much salt you should get a day. Some people with heart conditions and other health worries may need to aim for an even lower amount.
Food manufacturers have caught on to the need to pay attention to sodium. Many have started labeling items as reduced or low in sodium, but those monikers can be a bit tricky if you're limiting your salt intake a lot. For example:
• Sodium-free means that a product has less than 5mg of sodium. That's such a small amount per serving that as long as you're eating in moderation, you can consider that as no sodium.
• Low sodium typically means a serving has 140mg of sodium in it.
• Reduced sodium requires at least 25% less sodium than the regular version of the same product. You have to be careful with this one, as reduced sodium sounds good, but what if the original product had 1,000mg of sodium? The reduced version might still have 750mg!
Serving sizes often trip people up. The amounts of various things on labels are by serving size, but you might be surprised how often a serving is much less than you think. That doesn't mean you're limited to one serving of any particular food, but you do have to understand how eating more might impact your sodium intake.
Consider a common food: a can of Campbell's chicken noodle soup. The regular version has a whopping 890mg of sodium per serving. The can itself has 2.5 servings, so if you eat all of the soup—without anything else—that's 2,225mg of sodium. Pretty much the entire daily allowance for most adults!
So, how can you watch your salt intake without starving yourself or giving up flavor? There are plenty of options. Here are just a few:
• Eat less prepackaged foods. Foods that come in boxes or cans tend to be high in sodium because the salt adds taste and preserves ingredients. Frozen foods such as TV dinners or pizzas are also extremely high in sodium.
• Eat more fresh foods. Fresh fruits and veggies often have no sodium at all. Plus, they're full of vitamins and minerals that help support health and wellness.
• Use no-salt seasoning. You can buy table seasonings that add delicious flavoring to your food without any sodium. You can also use herbs and spices in recipes instead of salt.
• Snack smartly. Replace crunchy salt bombs like potato chips with carrots, sliced apples or even airpopped popcorn without salt.
• Talk to the assisted living staff. Let them know you're trying to eat less salt and ask for help choosing meals and snacks that work for you. The dining room at Grand Villa offers a number of healthy food options, including those that are low in sodium, for any meal.