Sodium

sodiumSodium or salt is found in almost every type of food, from processed to natural. It gives flavor to food and beverages, and is as common as…well…table salt. 

Before the days of refrigeration and processed foods, salt had to be added to things such as meats to help preserve them for longer periods. Since then salt is still added to foods, but usually only for the flavor. This has caused a health risk in the modern age, because people are consuming much more sodium then they are required. The daily recommended intake of sodium is less than 2400mg a day. Actual consumption can be up to anywhere in the 5000+ range. That can be pretty bad considering a high intake of sodium can cause hypertension and osteoporosis.

Sodium acts as an electrolyte that helps regulate the body’s fluid levels. It pumps water into the cells as potassium pumps the wastes out. It basically helps your body retain water and helps with nerve impulses and muscle contractions. So your body needs it to function, but the average diet contains double of the daily needs.

How is that possible? Well let’s say you go out to eat somewhere and order Mexican food. Most likely the place has 80% pre processed foods, which helps cut down on cost and time. All processed foods contain sodium to help add to shelf life and taste. So before it even gets to the resturant, salt has already been added. The resturant cooks the food and combines all the processed foods, which can contain high levels of sodium individually. The cook tosses in a pinch of salt in addition. Just think how much sodium can be on one plate of food before it even comes out to you. You get the food and maybe by instinct pick up the salt shaker and add more to it. By now you probably have somewhere around 2000mg of salt on your plate and that’s just for one meal. Say you had an appetizer, add 700mg. And you decide to have a Margarita with salt, add another 500mg. By the time you walk out of the resturant you have already exceeded your daily intake of sodium, and it’s only lunch!

One way to cut down on the excess consumption of sodium is to try eating more natural food or foods that have been minimally processed. Only endurance athletes need higher levels of sodium, because of the higher sweat levels. Sodium helps them endure their long grueling tasks. For us average people, all we need is about a teaspoon a day. It is hard these days with the fast pace of our lives, but it is much more manageable if you plan it ahead of time. 

Below is a table of some foods and their sodium levels

Food Sodium (mg)
Table Salt , 1 tsp 2358
Pickles, dill, 1 large 1731
Canned chicken soup, 1 cup 850
Sauerkraut, 1/2 cup 780
Pretzels, 1 oz 486
Cottage cheese, 1/2 cup 459
Sardines, 3 oz 429
Deli ham, 1 oz 341
Deli turkey breast, 1 oz 335
Soy Sauce, 1 tsp 304
Cheese, American, 1 oz 304
Cornflakes, 1 cup 298
Olives, black, 5 large 192
Deli bologna 295
Potato Chips, 1 oz 183

Sodium
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