Do You Know How Much Salt You’re Consuming?
Most people today are trying to eat healthier foods to promote good health and longevity, but you may be surprised to learn just how much sodium (salt) is in the foods you are eating. The U.S. guidelines on daily salt consumption are that we should not take in more than 2,300 milligrams per day, which equals about one teaspoon full. However, almost half of Americans have high blood pressure, heart disease and/or diabetes, the recommended amount of salt for people with any of those conditions is 1,500 milligrams.
Below is a list of common foods people consume with very high amounts of salt:
- Canned Vegetables – Canned vegetables may be great for those out of season veggies but they also may contain sauces, condiments and preservatives that are high in sodium content. As an example one cup of creamed corn contains a whopping 730 milligrams of salt. If you’re using canned veggies wash them thoroughly and buy the no salt added versions.
- Frozen Meals – Frozen dinners, even the ones labeled “Healthy” or “Lite” often are still loaded with salt, read the labels carefully. The average amount of sodium for a regular portion size frozen dinner contains over 800 milligrams of sodium.
- Jarred or Canned Spaghetti Sauces – Just a meager ½ cup of typical processed marinara spaghetti sauce contains averages just under 600 milligrams of salt. The low sodium version has just 38 milligrams of salt; spice it up with fresh herbs and spices to make it more pleasing to your taste buds.
- Pre-Packaged Deli Meats – Lunch meats are very deceptive, two tiny little slices of salami contain more than 360 milligrams of sodium. There are low salt versions of most meats but you need to read the labels carefully.
- Boxed Cereals – Even cereals that sound healthy (like raisin bran) contain large amounts of salt (249 milligrams per cup). Look for organic cereals with zero sodium or brands that make low sodium cereals. If you really need your raisin bran flakes try mixing a half cup of raisin bran with a half cup of sodium free cereal to satisfy your taste buds.
- Vegetable Drinks – Don’t slap your head too quickly because “you could of had a V-8,” most vegetable juice drinks are packing a sodium punch of 480 milligrams of salt per cup. There are low sodium versions of vegetable juice available, but you might want to get your two servings of veggies elsewhere.
- Canned Soup – A hearty bowl of soup on a cold winter night sounds perfect, but most canned soups are saturated in salt, just one cup of New England clam chowder has 890 milligrams of sodium. Even low sodium versions still have more sodium than most of us want to consume in just one cup of anything. Stick to making your own if possible, it’s pretty simple to make soup and you can make a large pot and freeze it in individual serving sizes for convenience.
- Processed Foods – Pre-packaged foods like microwavable pasta, rice, potatoes or just add flavor packet preparations often have more than fifty percent of your recommended daily amount of salt in one helping. Steering clear of pre-processed foods is advised if you have diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, are over 51, or are African American.
- Some Condiments – While condiments do make a hot dog tastier just small amounts of them can knock your salt intake out of the ballpark. For example: 1 tablespoon of ketchup contains 167 milligrams of sodium, sweet relish 1 tablespoon has 122 milligrams, mustard 1 teaspoon contains 57 milligrams of salt. Soy sauce tops the list of worst offenders with a staggering 902 milligrams of sodium per tablespoon. Read the labels of condiments you use before and after cooking your food and substitute healthier choices and low sodium versions.
- Medications – Some over the counter medications contain sodium, like heartburn tablets (Tums) headache remedies etc. read the warning labels on all medications before taking them or check with the pharmacist or healthcare provider.
If you are trying to eat healthier then avoiding too much sodium in your diet is essential. Reducing your salt intake can dramatically lower your risk of heart attack, stroke, and kidney damage by lowering your blood pressure, according to the American Heart Association. The U.S. guidelines say people who are at higher risk of developing these conditions should limit their salt intake to under 1500 milligrams per day; this recommendation includes the following high risk people:
- People with high blood pressure
- People with diabetes
- People with heart disease
- People with chronic kidney disease
- African American people
- People age 51 and above