Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Sodium Intake

When my sister was in high school, one of her friends said she'd give her a new watch if she drank a cup of soy sauce. She went ahead with the dare and got a new watch, but she also got quite sick as a result. Too much sodium can affect your electrolyte balance and make you ill. Aside from the immediate and obvious reactions to having too much salt in your diet, some long-term effects associated with excessive salt intake include high blood pressure, stroke, stomach cancer, and kidney problems.

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention,  90% of Americans eat more sodium than is recommended for a healthy diet. The U.S. dietary guidelines for sodium recommend 2,300 mg of sodium each day, but most Americans eat an average of 3,300 mg. Before we start bad-mouthing salt, it is important to remember that sodium is a necessary nutrient, but the problem is most people consume too much.

According to N.A.S.M., processed foods account for 75% of our sodium intake, naturally occurring sodium in food accounts for 10%, and 15% comes from adding table salt to our meals. With this knowledge, it is even more important to cut back on processed foods than it is to worry about how many shakes of salt one adds to their food.

If you are concerned about your sodium intake, beware of the following high-sodium foods:
potato chips, popcorn, pretzels, hot dogs, cheese, soups, pizza, lunch meats, white bread, soy sauce, etc. Some foods like ketchup also have a high sodium content even though we may not associate with being "salty" foods.

You can cut back on your sodium intake by going easy on the salt shaker, but you will make make a bigger difference if you simply eat fewer processed foods, eat out less and, instead, eat more whole foods.

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