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National Nutrition Month (March)

March is the month that the American Dietetic Association (ADA) signifies as National Nutrition Month. Their nutrition education and information campaign focuses attention on the importance of making informed food choices and developing sound eating and physical activity habits.

One aspect of nutrition that is of concern for Americans is their sodium consumption. Table salt is actually the common name for sodium chloride. It's 40 percent sodium and 60 percent chloride. While sodium is essential to live, we only need a few hundred milligrams per day with the average American consuming 3,000 to 6,000 milligrams per day. More than 90 percent of the sodium we eat comes from processed foods and prepared meals eaten away from home.

The new 2010 Dietary Guidelines recommend that we reduce daily sodium intake to less than 2,300 milligrams (mg) and further reduce intake to 1,500 mg among persons who are 51 and older and those of any age who are African American or have hypertension, diabetes, or chronic kidney disease. The 1,500 mg recommendation applies to about half of the U.S. population, including children, and the majority of adults.

The ADA offers ideas for lowering salt consumption and reducing sodium intake to recommended levels:

• Prepare food using little salt or fewer high-sodium ingredients. For example, skip using salt in cooking pasta, rice, cereals and vegetables.
• Taste food before salting it, and use table salt only as needed, not as a habit.
• Eat fresh fruits and vegetables, most of which contain little sodium.
• Use herbs, spices, rubs and fruit juices in cooking in place of salt.
• Check food labels for terms like low sodium, very low sodium or sodium free.
• Fresh meats, poultry, fish, dry and fresh legumes, unsalted nuts, eggs, milk and yogurt all contain less sodium.
Information was obtained from the American Dietetic Association, at and the U.S. Department of Agriculture U.S. Department of Health and Human Services at

Article provided by Dana Breeding, RN Health Educator with Community Outreach.