Think before you shake: the sodium saga continues

Carol Berg Sloan RD

Back in 2011 when the 2010 USDA Dietary Guidelines came out, health professionals, especially registered dietitians were shocked by the “51 and older” population recommendation for sodium intake. It said: Reduce daily sodium intake to less than 2,300 milligrams (mg) and further reduce intake to 1,500 mg among persons who are 51 and older and those of any age who are African-American or have hypertension, diabetes, or chronic kidney disease. The 1,500 mg recommendation applies to about half of the U.S. population, including children, and the majority of adults.
My colleagues and I knew that such a recommendation would be impossible to instill in older clients and actually pondered why such a drop was recommended, realizing that statistics do show that the average American consumes about 3400 milligrams a day (about 1½ teaspoons of salt).
The Dietary Guidelines are based on scientific evidence (science has been done to show proof) but now the Institute of Medicine (part of the National Academy of Sciences and another government body giving dietary recommendations) suggests such a low level could be harmful. They are now stating a more realistic amount of 2,300 milligrams per day.
For reference, a teaspoon of table salt (sodium chloride) has 2,000 milligrams of sodium. A one-ounce bag of Flamin’ Hot Cheetos© has 250 milligrams. An apple contains two milligrams, and a one-ounce piece of dark chocolate has 5 milligrams.
Research shows that most of us get our sodium from processed foods, eating out and fast food. If sodium is an issue for you for medical reasons, then by all means reduce your intake if high. Generally speaking, we should all be aware of how much is in the foods we eat. If you are over the 2,300-milligram mark, maybe it’s time to pay attention to your savory side. One easy way to cut back is by cooking at home. Try this “hot weather” salad (with 371 milligrams of sodium for an entire meal) courtesy of Eating Well© magazine.

Chicken & Fruit Salad
Chicken, melon, walnuts and feta top mixed salad greens for a refreshing summer salad. Use your favorite summer fruit in place of the melon if you wish.
(Four servings)

1/4 cup reduced-fat sour cream
3 tablespoons fruit-flavored vinegar
4 teaspoons sugar
1½ teaspoons poppy seeds
¼ teaspoon salt
Freshly ground pepper, to taste
8 cups mixed salad greens
2 cups sliced cooked chicken breast, (see Tip)
2 cups chopped melon, such as cantaloupe and/or honeydew
1/4 cup chopped walnuts, toasted (see Tip)
1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese

1.Whisk sour cream, vinegar, sugar, poppy seeds, salt and pepper in a large bowl until smooth. Reserve ¼ cup of the dressing in a small bowl. Add the mixed greens to the large bowl and toss to coat. Divide among four plates and top with chicken, melon, walnuts and feta. Drizzle each portion with 1 tablespoon of the reserved dressing.

Nutrition per serving: 248 calories; 11g fat; 4g saturated fat; 2g mono; 55mg cholesterol; 18g carbohydrates; 21g protein; 4g fiber; 346mg sodium; 371mg potassium

To poach chicken breast: place boneless, skinless chicken breasts in a medium skillet or saucepan and add lightly salted water to cover; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to low and simmer gently until chicken is cooked through and no longer pink in the middle, 10 to 12 minutes.
To toast chopped or sliced nuts, heat a small dry skillet over medium-low heat. Add nuts and cook, stirring, until lightly browned and fragrant, 2 to 3 minutes.


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