ARTICLES & GUIDES

SODIUM

What It Is?

The words “salt” and “sodium” are often used interchangeably, but they do not mean the same thing. Sodium is a mineral and one of the chemical elements found in salt. Salt (also known by its chemical name, sodium chloride) is a crystal-like compound that is abundant in nature and is used to flavor and preserve food.

Where Is It Found?

About 75% of dietary sodium comes from eating packaged and restaurant foods, whereas only a small portion (11%) comes from salt added to food when cooking or eating.

More than 40% of the sodium consumed by Americans comes from the following 10 types of foods, many of which are commercially processed or prepared:

  • Breads and rolls
  • Cheese (natural and processed)
  • Cold cuts and cured meats (such as deli and packaged ham and turkey)
  • Mixed meat dishes (such as beef stew, chili, and meat loaf)
  • Mixed pasta dishes (such as lasagna, pasta salad, and spaghetti with meat sauce)
  • Pizza
  • Poultry (fresh and processed)
  • Sandwiches (such as hamburgers, hot dogs, and submarine sandwiches)
  • Savory snacks (such as chips, crackers, popcorn, and pretzels)
  • Soups

What It Does?

  • Sodium is an essential nutrient and is needed by the human body in relatively small amounts (provided that substantial sweating does not occur).
  • Sodium is important for many body processes, such as fluid balance, muscle contraction, and nervous system function.
  • As a food ingredient, sodium has multiple uses, such as for curing meat, baking, thickening, retaining moisture, enhancing flavor (including the flavor of
    other ingredients), and as a preservative.

Source: “Factsheets Sodium.” Accessdata.fda.gov

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