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A diet with low sodium can help curb cancer

It’s no secret that salt can increase the risk for stomach cancer.

Dietary guidelines from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recognize this. They call for limiting sodium, or salt, to less than 1,500 milligrams per day for people who are age 51 or older, African Americans and anyone with high blood pressure, diabetes or chronic kidney disease.

“About half of Americans fit into this category,” said Virginia Jordan, registered dietitian at Marshfield Clinic Cancer Care-Eau Claire. “For the rest of us, the daily guideline is 2,300 mg of sodium or less.”

Or, if that seems impossibly low, you could follow guidelines issued by the American Institute of Cancer Research in 2010 which call for 2,400 mg per day. New guidelines are expected in 2015.

A little is a lot

The problem is that we Americans like our salt. Jordan sees many people who claim they don’t add salt to food at the table and only add “a little” when they are preparing food. But here’s the catch – just one teaspoon of salt contains 2,300 mg of sodium, so even a little is actually a lot.

“Most of the sodium we consume is added to food before we even open a package or walk into a restaurant,” Jordan said. “About 75 to 80 percent of the sodium we eat comes from processed foods and foods eaten outside our homes.”

Sodium is also a key contributor to high blood pressure, a major cause of heart disease. With all of this in mind, we offer these tips for reducing sodium:

  • Use less processed food and look at labels to see how much sodium is in the foods you are buying. Be sure you are comparing “apples to apples.”
  • Season your own rice, pasta and potatoes. Don’t buy the processed variety. Use herbs, spices and pepper as seasoning.
  • Buy products like tomatoes, soups, tuna or vegetables that are no-salt or low-sodium. Or buy frozen or fresh products.
  • Don’t be fooled by “sea salt.” Salt is salt.
  • Choose restaurant meals carefully. You can sometimes check online to find sodium information for specific restaurants.

Salad dressings are often high in sodium. But you can avoid it by making your own dressings, like this.

bottle of homemade tangy dressing with a saladTangy Dressing Recipe

Preparation time: 5 minutes.


  • 1-1/2 cups low-sodium tomato juice
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon oil (olive or canola)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Pepper to taste
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2-1 teaspoon herbs of choice, including basil, thyme, oregano, etc.


Put all ingredients into blender and blend until smooth. Chill and keep in refrigerator.


One response to “A diet with low sodium can help curb cancer”

  1. Joanne Keays

    Fyi. Canola oil is from rapeseed, a seed birds won't even eat. It is highly processed just until it is edible and then sold for human consumption. :-X. So I stick to olive oil, grapeseed oil (Grape-ola) or avocado oil.

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