Nine out of 10 Americans consume too much sodium. Too much sodium is a health concern for all ages, but particularly for older Americans. Kidney function declines with age, so seniors have a more difficult time removing excess sodium from their bodies. While the body needs an adequate amount of sodium to function, too much sodium can lead to stroke, heart failure, kidney disease, osteoporosis, and high blood pressure.
How much sodium should seniors consume?Both the American Heart Association and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, recommend that seniors consume no more than 1,500 milligrams of sodium per day. 1,500 mg is equivalent to just 2/3 teaspoon of salt, so meeting this recommendation and finding low sodium meals can be a challenge.
Where is sodium hiding?
Most of the sodium in meals for the elderly comes from added salt (sodium chloride), either during food preparation or at the table. In addition, seniors frequently eat canned and frozen convenience meals purchased from the grocery store or a food delivery company that is not focused on senior nutrition. Restaurant meals and frozen meals made by mass market producers tend to be loaded with sodium and should only be consumed in a limited amount.
Where can seniors find convenient yet healthy meals?
Many senior centers have nutrition programs that offer congregate meals. These meals are typically funded by the Older Americans' Act and are required to meet low sodium meal guidelines. If you or your loved one is able to travel, these centers often also offer classes, activities, and services designed specifically for older adults. Some centers request a nominal donation for meals. Many of the centers and other programs, like Meals on Wheels, provide home delivered meals which also meet the same low sodium requirements. To find a center, go to www.Eldercare.gov.
GA Foods is a provider of SunMeadow® brand frozen and shelf-stable (canned or non-refrigerated "pantry") meal delivery for many senior programs. Not only are SunMeadow® meals low in sodium, they are also appropriate for those needing a healthy heart diet, diabetic diet meal plan, or diet for kidney disease. Not all food delivery companies are the same; many do not cater to the specific health needs of seniors. Be sure that you or the senior in your life consumes meals that are designed specifically for the special needs of seniors to avoid excessive sodium and ensure adequate nutrient content.
For more information about the nutritional content of SunMeadow® meals, click the image below: