Sodium and Persons With Diabetes

Sodium and diabetes:

The average American consumes about 6 to 18 grams (or 1 to 3 tablespoons) of ordinary table salt (or sodium chloride) each day. Persons with diabetes are encouraged to limit the sodium in their diets to help prevent or to control high blood pressure.

How is sodium measured?

  • 28 grams = one ounce

  • 1 gram divided into 1000 parts = one milligram (mg) or 1000 milligrams = one gram

  • 5.5 grams of sodium = teaspoon

The American Diabetes Association recommends a daily sodium intake of 2,400 milligrams (2.4 grams) or less if you have diabetes and mild to moderate high blood pressure.

What foods are high in sodium?

Most foods contain some sodium, but sodium is often added during the processing of prepared and prepackaged food products. Some examples of foods that are high in sodium include the following:

  • meats - such as bacon, ham, cold cuts (bologna), Canadian bacon, corned beef, hot dogs, Polish and Italian sausages

  • fish - such as canned tuna, salmon, sardines; commercially frozen, pre-breaded, or smoked fish; canned shellfish

  • canned foods - such as vegetables, soups, vegetable and tomato juices

  • prepared or pre-mixed products - such as macaroni and cheese, potato mixes, TV dinners, frozen main dishes

  • snacks - such as salted crackers, pretzels, potato chips, commercially-prepared baked goods (such as cookies and doughnuts)

  • other foods - such as olives, pickles, commercially-prepared salad dressings, soy and steak sauces, cheeses

Many food products that are commercially prepared are now available with low sodium content. When buying food products, be sure to check the labels for the symbol Na, or the words sodium, sodium chloride, or soda - which indicate that sodium is present.

Other spices and herbs can be substituted for salt. Salt substitutes are also available. Consult your physician or a registered dietitian (RD) for more specific dietary recommendations.

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