Americans love food sweet and salty, but a diet high in sodium and sugar is a health risk. The American Heart Association recommends limiting sodium intake to no more than 1,500 milligrams each day and capping daily added sugar consumption at 6 teaspoons for women and 9 teaspoons for men. You can keep your diet low in sugar and sodium by avoiding processed, packaged foods.
While it's a good idea to put away the salt shaker and sugar bowl, the majority of sugar and sodium in the American diet come from processed foods. For instance, a 1-ounce serving of air-popped popcorn that you make at home has a mere 2 milligrams of sodium and less than a gram of sugar. The same amount of store-bought caramel-coated popcorn with peanuts, on the other hand, has nearly 13 grams of sugar and 50 milligrams of sodium.
Opting for whole foods in an effort to limit sugar and sodium consumption simplifies your diet. Rather than read labels on the dozens of boxes of cereals and breakfast bars at the store, grab a canister of whole oats, and you've got yourself a low-sodium, low-sugar breakfast. When you go to the store, shop the perimeter and avoid the middle aisles with snacks and sweets. Stock up on vegetables, fruit, fresh meat and poultry, fresh fish, unsweetened milk and yogurt, and unsalted nuts, seeds and beans. Sodium solutions are often used to preserve meat, so read labels carefully.
- American Heart Association: Shaking the Salt Habit
- Harvard School of Public Health: Added Sugar in the Diet
- USDA National Nutrient Database: Snacks, Popcorn, Caramel-Coated, With Peanuts
- USDA National Nutrient Database: Snacks, Popcorn, Air-Popped
- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: Low Sodium Foods: Shopping List