Getting By

High sodium consumption raises blood pressure which is a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke. Blood pressure begins decreasing within weeks on average when salt/sodium intake is reduced. Although we all need a small amount of sodium for our bodies to work properly, the Dietary Guidelines for Americans suggests less than 2300 milligrams (mg) per day. People 51 and older, African Americans and people with high blood pressure, diabetes and/or with chronic kidney disease should limit sodium intake to 1500 mg per day.

Recognizing that decreasing your sodium intake is not easy, here are some tips and information to help you identify positive changes of decreasing sodium consumption in your eating habits:

• The majority of sodium consumed comes from processed foods and foods prepared for retail sale or service.

• When available, choose or low-sodium, lower-sodium, reduced-sodium or no-salt-added options of food.

• Sodium content can vary significantly in different food brands. Compare Nutrition Facts labels on food packages for Daily Value percentage or amount in milligrams. Look at the serving size for each to be sure you are comparing the same serving sizes from brand to brand. Remember when you are eating to keep in mind what the serving size is and calculate your sodium intake based on how many servings you ate.

• Limit eating mixes, sauces, instant and ready-made foods.

• Buy fresh, frozen (no sauce) or no-salt-added canned vegetables.

• Use fresh poultry, fish, pork and lean meat rather than canned or processed meats. Check to see if saline or salt solution has been added. If so, look at a different brand.

To learn more, visit or contact Janell at the Chouteau County Extension Office at 622-3036, or 1308 Franklin St (basement of Courthouse) in Fort Benton.

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Montana State University, US Department of Agriculture and Montana Counties Cooperating. MSU Extension is an equal opportunity/affirmative action provider of educational outreach.