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How much sodium is too much for a day?

"Ask the Experts" at East Jefferson General Hospital [Web Exclusive Content]

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General sodium recommendations by the Dietary Guidelines for Americans are to not exceed 2,300 milligrams of sodium per day. Limiting salt to below 1,500 milligrams per day is beneficial for those with high blood pressure, fluid retention, and heart disease. One teaspoon of salt contains about 2,300 milligrams of sodium. But, salt is not just added salt while cooking or at the table. Sodium is also high in some foods that do not even taste salty, like milk products and baked foods.

Reading food labels is a great way to track sodium intake. Make sure sodium content on the label is less than 140 milligrams per serving or 500 milligrams per meal. This will help you consume below 2,000 milligrams per day.

Sodium is found in almost every food, so completely avoiding sodium is not realistic. Choosing fresh fruits and vegetables, and salt-free and reduced-sodium foods are great ways to limit salt intake. Sea salt does not have less sodium content than table salt; since it is a larger grain, fewer salt granules fit onto a teaspoon, so you are eating less sodium.

Since many processed foods are very high in sodium, eating natural or minimally processed foods is the best way to avoid unnecessary sodium. Alternative seasonings such as herbs and spices contain little or no sodium and add just as much flavor. Be cautious when trying salt alternatives; the main ingredient is potassium chloride, which may be a problem for those taking certain medications or potassium supplements.

To learn if you need to restrict sodium from you diet and get additional tips to control your sodium intake,contact Chantal Lemoine, RD, LDN, Outpatient Clinical Dietitian at East Jefferson General Hospital at 504-454-4077 or clemoine@ejgh.org.

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