Sodium, better known in food as table salt, helps your body balance fluids. Too much sodium and your body holds fluids, not enough sodium and you can become dehydrated. Neither of these situations is good for your heart. So limiting the amount of sodium in your diet is very important—2,400 mg a day is a healthy goal unless your doctor tells you otherwise.
Tips for finding the salt
The best way to find the salt is to read the food labels on packaged foods—both the nutrition facts label and the ingredients list. Labels won’t list the amount of “salt,” it will list “sodium.”
The Nutrition Facts label has three important numbers for sodium—
- how much is in a serving
- how many servings are in the package, and
- how much salt is in each serving.
If the food doesn’t have a Nutrition Facts label, it should have a list of ingredients. Ingredients are listed in order of amount used. So ingredients listed first make up more of the food than the ingredients listed last. If sodium is listed close to the beginning of the list, you might want to adjust the rest of your day based the amount of salt you will get in this food.
A good goal is to get 500-700 mg of sodium at each meal and a total of 2400 mg (1 1/5 tsp) for the whole day. So some meals may have more than others, just keep your 2400 mg goal in mind!