Sodium Savvy

Limiting dietary sodium has been a central focus in the world of health for a while, yet many of us tend to brush it off thinking it only applies to people with high blood pressure. Well, it’s doesn’t…

Despite a recommendation of a daily intake of no more than 1500 mg of sodium, the average American consumes more than twice this amount every day! …and unfortunately this also includes younger children and teenagers whose diets are often dominated by fast foods, soft drinks and other convenience foods, all of which are loaded with unnecessary sodium, not to mention sugar and numerous additives & preservatives all of which are there to enhance flavor. The thing is, sodium is not just about the salt we add to our food or foods that taste salty. It is about the hidden sodium found in milkshakes, soft drinks, soups and even “healthy” convenience foods that don’t always even taste salty.

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  • Why is sodium so bad? Closely associated with high blood pressure and many cardiovascular disorders, excessive sodium is related to some serious health consequences and new research reveals that more than 90% of all Americans are likely to develop high blood pressure at some point in their life.
  • Furthermore, a high intake of sodium dehydrates our cells and forces the body to retain water. As result the health of our skin is compromised and we get the bloat  …not a desirable accessory to sport no matter the season.
  • Finally, excessive sodium can also worsen PMS symptoms and increase the risk of osteoporosis since it speeds up calcium loss from our bones.

A few examples of high sodium foods 

  • A 2 oz serving of corn flakes packs 400mg sodium! Choose oats instead and reduce this to just 5mg (Plus oats come with a side bonus of extra fiber and protein)
  • Swap a small cheeseburger with a roasted chicken sandwich from Subway and save 300mg sodium plus more than half the fat!
  • A medium Vanilla milk shake adds an extra 397mg to your daily sodium intake…as well as an enormous 45g (11 teaspoons or 20 cubes) of pure sugar! 
  • 1 cup canned vegetable soup contains close to 920 mg sodium. Make your own soup and reduce this figure to only 380 mg.
  • 1 kid size serving of macaroni & cheese packs 938 mg sodium. (That’s a lot!)
  • A small bag of pretzel snacks or tortilla chips contain more than 500mg sodium. Baked pita chips on the other hand contain only half of this amount.

How to reduce your sodium intake? Always check the labels of the foods you buy and remember – the more natural and unrefined the food, the lower the sodium content.

Natural food choices such as fresh fruit and vegetables are all naturally very low in sodium while rich in potassium, which is a mineral that helps counteract the bad effects of sodium. More over, exercise has also shown to be a very effective way of lowering both blood pressure and cholesterol. Aim for at least 30 minutes a day and make sure to get your heart rate up!

Photo Credit: Dusky/

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