Sodium: The secret ingredient that is eroding our health

Question:  We’ve talked about eating more nuts and soy and beans; are salted nuts OK?

Salt or sodium is a much too frequently added ingredient in our diets.  We have an inherent love for salt and that in theory keeps our electrolytes in balance.  However our taste buds have overpowered  the electrolyte need in recent times and created problems with our health.

Question: Really?! Salt is that much of a problem?

Yes, while there has been controversy regarding the effect on our bodies, there is no question Americans get too much of this mineral.  Excess sodium can increase blood pressure which is a key risk factor in heart disease.  Sodium is hidden everywhere in our foods.  Most people are unaware of how much sneaks into their diet unless they are avid label readers.

Question:  What should I be looking for on the food label?

Sodium is one of the nutrients that must be listed on the food label in the US.  The recommended goal is 1500-2300mg/day for heart health.  Most Americans get closer to 2-5000mg/day.  One teaspoot of salt, whether regular or sea salt is 2300mg of sodium.  Most of the sodium in our diet comes from dining out and processed foods such as macaroni and cheese and rice mixes.  Restaurants often “brine” their meats which means they soak them in a salt solution to pull in water to make them more juicy and tasty.  We have become very accustomed to this taste. 

Question:  What other foods are high in sodium?

Instant pudding boxes often contain 300-400mg sodium per half cup; breads can contain 200 or more milligrams/slice and even breakfast cereals can contain alarming levels.  A 6 inch turkey Subway sandwich with no cheese is over 1000mg sodium or almost your whole days worth!  Reading labels is the only way to know for sure.