| By Cameron, 6th grade | June 2021…You may have heard of sodium. It is a mineral that occurs naturally in food. Many people think sodium and salt are the same thing, but they are not. According to the Food and Drug Administration, table salt is a crystal-like substance that is abundant in nature and is a combination of sodium and chloride.
While sodium occurs naturally in some foods, it is often added during manufacturing of prepared foods. Celery, beets, and milk are a few foods where sodium occurs naturally. Overall, the FDA says 70 percent of the sodium we eat comes from processed, prepackaged, and restaurant foods.
Eating less processed food and eating more home-cooked meals is one way to help control the amount of sodium we consume. However, if you never use salt, you still are probably getting too much sodium because of the amount of sodium that is hidden in foods we eat.
So how do we reduce sodium in our diet? According to the FDA, you can start by reading the facts on the labels of the food we eat. Here are a few tips:
- Prepare your own food when you can; mixes and instant products are high in sodium.
- Add flavoring to your food other than salt, like herbs and spices.
- Buy fresh vegetables instead of canned. If you need to use canned vegetables, rinse them first to remove some of the salt.
- Instead of eating salted snacks, eat unsalted ones, or choose carrots or celery sticks instead.
- Also, when eating restaurant foods, choose those that are lower in sodium.
One good reason for watching our sodium intake is because the American Heart Association says sodium can cause high blood pressure that over time can lead to heart attacks, heart failure, stroke, kidney disease, or blindness. Also, as we get older our blood pressure tends to rise, so starting now to lower the sodium intake is a great idea. So make sure to check those nutrition labels for sodium levels and keep yourself healthy!
—Cameron is a reporter for the East Norriton Bulldog Bulletin