Sodium is an important mineral needed by the body to work properly by controlling blood pressure and blood volume. It is also essential for the proper functioning of nerves and muscles in the body.
The recommended daily intake of sodium for different age groups is as follows Average sodium intake of a healthy adult should not exceed the maximum recommendation of 2300mg/day. However the average daily intake of sodium in a normal diet is far more than this.
Sources of sodium
The main source of sodium comes from the normal table salt, which is the main ingredient of every savoury. 1 tsp of table salt provide 2300 mg of sodium. Other sources of sodium include
- Natural sources such as meats , fishes, dairy and eggs.
- Foods in which salt is added during preparations and processing such as cheese, processed meats, tomatoes, salad dressings bread and cookies.
- Fast foods and foods prepared at restaurants.
- Baking soda and baking powder.
- Monosodium glutamate or Chinese salt
Effects of high sodium intake
Hypertension, stroke and heart diseases
The extra sodium in your body forces kidneys to hold more water to dilute the sodium which in turns increases the volume of blood in bloodstream . It then forces the heart to work more and put a lot of pressure on blood vessels. This extra works and pressure eventually results in stiffening of blood vessels resulting in high blood pressure, stroke and heart diseases.
High sodium intake results in increase calcium excretion . An increase loss of calcium via urine results in increased bone remodeling and bone loss which eventually results in weakening of bones and osteoporosis.
Kidneys are responsible to draw the extra fluids from the body through a process called osmosis. This process requires a balance of sodium and potassium to pull water from the bloodstream into the bladder. Eating salt raises sodium in the bloodstream which alters the balance and reduces the ability of kidneys to remove toxic substances out from the body, that in the long run causes damage to the kidneys.
Tips of reducing sodium intake
Almost 75% of the sodium comes from the packaged and processed foods available in the market. Following are some tips to reduce sodium intake .
- Try to avoid processed meats and packaged foods available in the market. Foods such as sausages, salami and ready made burger patties are rich in salt and should be taken with caution.
- Choose low salt condiments for example soya sauce, pickles and relishes. Read food label carefully to know the quantity of salt added in them.
- When using canned food items such as mushrooms, chickpeas and beans, wash them with running water before use.
- Try to use fresh vegetables as much as possible.
- Do not use monosodium glutamate (Chinese salt).
- Do not add salt when boiling rice , pasta or cereals.
- Use low salt instead of table salt as it contains potassium chloride which helps to lower the blood pressure. However this salt substitute is not advisable for patients with kidney diseases.
- Do not sprinkle extra salt from the top.