Nutrition · Pregnancy

What’s the scoop on sodium?

Wooden spoonful of salt

Adults, including breastfeeding and pregnant women need about 1500mg of sodium a day.  This is plenty to help make our bodies’ blood pressure, muscles and nerves work well.  Should you keep an eye on the amount of sodium you get every day?  The answer is yes!

Most of us get around 3,300mg of sodium each day without even knowing it.  This is about double the levels your body needs.  Getting these high levels of sodium everyday may cause chronic high blood pressure and puts you at increased risk for stroke and heart problems.  

During pregnancy, the amount of sodium you eat is not causing your hands or feet to swell nor is it related to preeclampsia (high blood pressure in pregnancy).

Sodium in our diet comes mostly from processed foods like deli meats, canned foods, cheeses, breads, cereals and frozen meals.  The salt that you add to your cooking or food provides a very small amount compared to what processed foods have in one portion.

One slice of frozen pizza can give you almost half of the total amount of sodium that we recommend for a day!

 

How can I lower the sodium in my diet?

You can start by reading the nutrition facts table on the products you buy.  You can find out if a product has too little or too much sodium by using the percentage Daily Value (DV).

daily value meter

 

For example, a product with 5 % DV or less in one serving has very little sodium.  A product that has 15 %t DV or more has too much.  Food labels use 2400mg of sodium as the total amount for the day. So if a product has a per cent DV of 50, it’s already giving you close to what you should get for a whole day (1500mg).

Have a look at these pictures. This is where you can find how much sodium you are getting. The first one has less than 5% and the second one has more than 15%.

Nutritional Facts label sample
More than 15% DV
Nutritional Facts label of Pita crisps
5% DV

 

Following this simple guide will help you choose better products that are still easy to prepare and keep you healthy.

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