Fit 5 on Friday: Cut back on Sodium

May 17, 2013By 0 Comments

cibo00_Cibo00_-_Number_(5)In an effort to add some quick nutritional insight to those of us too darn busy to read the latest Self or Men’s Health magazine or who are annoyed by Dr. Oz… I wanted to add a new ‘segment’ to my blog.  Each Friday I will post a quick ‘Five’ with steps on how to change or work on certain things with our diabetes and/or nutrition.

This week I wanted to touch on sodium.  Sodium is a vice for many people with and without diabetes.  More so in the last couple of decades, with the piles and piles of processed food down our grocery store isles, we can’t seem to avoid sodium.  For people with any type of diabetes, we know that our blood pressure and our heart health is always part of our concern for potential complications in the future.  While blood sugar management is a top priority for reducing the risk of complications, diet is just about a tie breaker with blood sugar control and sodium is a true cheater.

Many people don’t realize that MANY low fat or low carb items still taste great because the manufacturer has blinded our taste buds with added sodium.  Here are 5 things you can do on your next trip to the grocery store to cut back on your sodium intake ASAP!  Just for the record; the American Heart Association recommends a conservative number for daily sodium intake of less than 1500 mg.  This is less than other governing bodies such as the USDA recommends.  I agree that it is better to air on the side of caution as many Americans can consume triple what the AHA recommends during a dinner at the average steak restaurant!

1) Soup isle: stock up on low sodium chicken broth, and some organic low sodium soups such as Amy’s Organic creamy tomato!  Soup is an obvious sodium culprit, and the lower sodium versions don’t taste any different.  You can ALWAYS use low sodium chicken broth/stalk for so many recipes.

2) Deli counter: Not that I encourage consuming a ham sandwich on a daily basis, it is still processed meat, but if you like a sandwich on occasion, go for the lower sodium baked ham, turkey breast and American cheese, I PROMISE you will NOT notice a difference!  I like the Sara Lee and Boar’s Head low sodium brand.  The grocery store ‘Thin and Trim’ brand is also tasty.

3) Spice isle: Most people already know this but just in case… Use Garlic and Onion POWDER not SALT for seasoning.  For garlic salt/powder for example It’s a difference of 1/4 tsp is 490 mg vs.  nearly ZERO! I often use a blend of garlic powder, onion powder, ground black pepper and extra virgin olive oil on boneless skinless chicken breast.

4) Cereal/Protein Bars: I know I am a sucker for a quick protein or cereal bar when I am on the road all day for work.  I pile them in my purse and will eat them as both a snack and for lunch if I am having a super busy day.  This is not good practice to do all the time, but keep an eye on all those ‘healthy’ bar options, many are packed with saturated fat and sodium.  Aim for one that is less than 140 mg.

5) The Salt Shaker: DON’T USE ONE!  No need to even have it on the table 🙂

The following are guidelines from FDA and taken from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics website at

  • “Sodium-Free” or “Salt-Free” Less than 5 mg of sodium per labeled serving.
  • “Very Low Sodium”/”Very Low Salt” 35 mg or less of sodium per serving.
  • “Low Sodium” or “Low Salt” 140 mg or less of sodium per serving.
  • “Reduced Sodium” or “Reduced Salt” At least 25 percent less sodium per serving than a similar product.
  • “Lightly Salted” or “Light in Sodium” At least 50 percent less sodium per serving than a similar product
  • “No Salt Added” or “Unsalted” This means the food doesn’t have any extra salt, not that it is totally salt-free. The FDA says companies must add, “This Is Not a Sodium Free Food,” on their information panel to differentiate between be a food that is “Unsalted” and one that is “Salt Free.”

*Just as a reminder… I do not get paid to endorse any specific brands.


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