Courtesy of Melissa Halas-Liang, MA, RD, CDE of SuperKidsNutrition
As a parent concerned about your child’s nutrition, you may already focus on boosting your family’s consumption of a wide variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, and seeds. But do you pay attention to your family’s sodium intake?
Consuming too much sodium can increase your risk for high blood pressure, heart attack, and stroke, so it is important to keep an eye on how much you are consuming. Sodium can hide in sneaky places, so try these quick tips to reduce the amount of sodium in your food.
- Place salt-free spice blends on the table, such as Mrs. Dash, Trader Joe’s 21 Salute, or Bragg’s 24 Herbs and Spice Seasoning, instead of salt. You can enjoy a pop of flavor without adding extra salt.
- Check nutrition labels carefully for low sodium or reduced sodium sauces, soups, soy sauce, broths, tomato sauce, breads, peanut butter, and other packaged products. You’ll be surprised how much sodium is in one brand of tomato sauce versus another.
- Rinse your canned beans. This simple act can decrease the sodium content by as much as 40%.
- Next time you order a pizza, ask for half the cheese, double the sauce, the thinnest crust, and extra veggies. The general rule of thumb is to reduce the amount of bread, cheese, and meat in your pizza to lower your sodium intake. Another option is to make pizza for your children at home using reduced sodium marinara sauce, low sodium cheeses like mozzarella and goat cheese, and fresh, minimally processed meats with little to no added salt. Use garlic, spice blends, and fresh herbs (e.g., basil, oregano) for extra flavor.
- When making homemade pasta dishes, purchase low sodium tomato sauces (which are also a great source of potassium) and use extra basil, pepper, and garlic for flavor.
- Provide low sodium snacks like sliced fruits and veggies or low sodium whole wheat crackers in place of chips, animal jerky, or pretzels. When salty snacks are offered, make sure to opt for the low sodium versions.
Melissa Halas-Liang, MA, RD, CDE, is a registered dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator® with a masters in nutrition education. She is founder of SuperKids Nutrition Inc., where she is “saving the world, one healthy food at a time.” Read more about her SuperCrew children’s books and her experience as a registered dietitian on the founder’s page. Discover how nutrition can help you live your best health potential through her on-line courses and subscribe to her blog, Melissa’s Healthy Living, for nutrition updates.