What is a healthy amount of salt intake in a day? I like to eat soup, but even the "light" or Healthy Choice brands seem like they have a lot of sodium per serving. Also would draining some of the broth out of the soup help in getting rid of the sodium?

Dietary salt is often mistaken for sodium. However, sodium is actually the part of salt that may lead to health problems if not consumed in moderation. We do need to consume some sodium, as it is important in helping transmit nerve impulses, balancing the fluids in our body, and it does influence the contraction and relaxation of muscles. But when consumed in excess, it has dangerous health implications such as increased risk of heart disease and stroke. According to the 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, we are not to exceed 2,300 mg of sodium a day for healthy adults. And for those that have high blood pressure, kidney disease or diabetes, it is recommended not to exceed 1,500 mg per day. Keep in mind that one teaspoon of salt has 2,400 mg of sodium.

The main dietary sources of sodium include: processed and prepared foods, salt added in the kitchen and at the table, and natural sources. The majority of the sodium that we eat comes from processed foods. Many of these foods are found in the center aisles of the supermarket. Things like potato chips, pretzels, soup, crackers, popcorn etc. Salt also can bring out the sweetness of foods so is often added to items like cookies, doughnuts, and cakes. Salt is often called for when preparing common recipes. Many families also keep a salt shaker on the table, and many people often salt their food before even trying it. In addition, commonly used condiments (barbeque sauce, soy sauce, marinades, and pickle relish) also contain increased sodium. There are some foods that do naturally contain sodium. Common vegetables (like celery), dairy products, and shellfish naturally have sodium. It is important to note that even though they are not too high in sodium, it still adds to your overall daily intake.

Soup is a major culprit for sodium. One dehydrated onion soup packet contains 3,132 mg of sodium! And one can of chicken noodle soup contains around 1,100 mg (which is half of what you need per day). So, to reduce sodium intake, it would be a good idea to choose soups that are lower in sodium (look for ones containing the American Heart Association “heart” symbol). For example, one cup of Healthy Choice chicken noodle soup contains 460 mg, which is much less than typical brands. And much of the sodium is found in the broth, so reducing some of the broth can indeed save you some milligrams of sodium.

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