The Baton Rouge Clinic in Prairieville is Now Open! Click here for more information!

Spread the love

Do your body good by cutting back on salt and sugar in your diet. Here’s how.

When it comes to following a healthy diet, one of the best places to start is to lower the amount of salt and sugar you eat. Even if you exercise regularly, consuming too much salt and sugar can impact your health in negative ways. Excess sodium raises blood pressure, which puts you at risk for heart disease, stroke and heart failure. Too much sugar in your diet increases the risk of diabetes, heart disease, obesity and depression.

The 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans suggest that salt and sugar be limited as follows:

  • Sodium – 2,300 mg of sodium per day for healthy adults. That’s about the amount of sodium in one teaspoon of salt.
  • Sugar – Less than 10 percent of daily calories. For a 2,000 calorie diet, that’s about 12 teaspoons.

The American Heart Association (AHA) has more stringent limits on salt and sugar. They include:

  • Sodium – 1,500 mg of sodium per day, especially if you have high blood pressure or other heart conditions.
  • Sugar – Limit added sugars to 9 teaspoons per day for men and 6 teaspoons per day for women.

About 90 percent of Americans consume more salt and almost three times the amount of sugar recommended by the AHA. And it’s easy to see why. One 12-ounce soda has 8 teaspoons of sugar. One slice of pizza has about 600 mg of sodium. Eating processed foods can make those numbers add up fast.

Ready to be more mindful of how much salt and sugar you consume? These tips can help:

  • Read labels. You’d be surprised by how much salt and sugar hides in foods, even if they don’t taste salty or sweet. Canned soups, sauces, condiments and dressings are common culprits. Products that contain 5 percent of the daily value or less are considered low sodium or low sugar. If a product is labeled as reduced sodium or sugar, it means it has 25 percent less than the original but that may still be a lot.
  • Limit processed foods. Frozen meals and other ready-to-eat foods that come in boxes, cans or jars are typically high in sodium and/or sugar. An easy way to lower how much you consume is to eat less processed food and more whole unprocessed foods, such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean protein.
  • Eat at home. Eating out can significantly increase how much sugar and salt you’re eating. Restaurant meals are also notoriously high in these ingredients. Some popular takeout foods, such as pizza, burritos and deli sandwiches, are also high in salt and sugar. Preparing your own food helps you control what goes into it.
  • Cut back gradually. If you’re trying to cut back on salt and sugar in your diet, do so gradually to give your taste buds time to adjust. Otherwise, your food may taste too bland and you’ll give up on your efforts. Use a half teaspoon of sugar in your coffee instead of a whole teaspoon. Leave the salt shaker off the table while you’re eating.
  • Find healthy alternatives. There are plenty of options that will give you a similar taste and feel to what you’re craving. If you’re in the mood for strawberry ice cream, enjoy a cup of fresh strawberries with Greek yogurt. If you like soda, try adding fresh fruit to carbonated water instead.
  • Season your food. Keep your food tasting great by experimenting with a variety of spices and seasonings in place of salt and sugar. Basil, thyme, red pepper, lemon, garlic, vinegar, cinnamon, allspice and vanilla extract are just some flavors to try but there are many more, too.
  • Watch portion size. Still want to enjoy the foods you love? Just cut back on portions. Instead of having a full plate of pasta, have a cup of pasta with a side salad. No need to have four pancakes for breakfast – have two instead with a cup of fresh fruit.

Copyright 2024 © Baldwin Publishing, Inc.  Health eCooks® is a registered trademark of Baldwin Publishing, Inc. Cook eKitchen™ is a designated trademark of Baldwin Publishing, Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein without the express approval of Baldwin Publishing, Inc. is strictly prohibited.

Date Last Reviewed: January 16, 2024

Editorial Review: Andrea Cohen, Editorial Director, Baldwin Publishing, Inc. Contact Editor

Medical Review: Jane Schwartz, RDN, CLT

Learn more about Baldwin Publishing Inc. editorial policyprivacy policyADA compliance and sponsorship policy.

No information provided by Baldwin Publishing, Inc. in any article is a substitute for medical advice or treatment for any medical condition. Baldwin Publishing, Inc. strongly suggests that you use this information in consultation with your doctor or other health professional. Use or viewing of any Baldwin Publishing, Inc. article signifies your understanding and agreement to the disclaimer and acceptance of these terms of use.