I asked my husband to pick up some tomato sauce the other day and what he came home with made my heart skip a beat. I looked at the label and couldn’t believe what I saw – enough dietary sodium to get my heart pounding! My mouth is drying up like a sponge in the sun just thinking about how much sodium I poured over my healthy stuffed cabbage.
Determining Dietary Sodium
To find out the amount of salt, in the form of sodium chloride, in a food product look at the serving size, the total number of servings and the amount of sodium per serving on the nutrition label. In this 29 oz can of Hunt’s sauce there are 410 mg of sodium in each of the 13 servings. That’s a grand total of 5330 mg in this high sodium sauce! My ticker wasn’t just talking, it was screaming at me. Each of my stuffed cabbages delivered nearly 1100 mg of sodium. No wonder I was really thirsty a couple of hours later.
Dietary Sodium Hurts Your Heart
Sodium, like a sponge, makes your body hold on to water. That extra fluid increases the volume of fluid your heart has to pump, increasing workload on the heart and raising blood pressure. The extra workload and pressure can stiffen the arteries, leading to heart disease. Two-thirds of all strokes and half of heart disease are caused by high blood pressure.
The average American consumes 3440 mg of sodium daily, well above the 2015 Nutrition Guidelines and the American Heart Association’s recommended amount of 2300 mg for people aged 14 and older. Have high blood pressure already? The recommended amount of sodium is even lower, at 1500 mg daily. You can reduce sodium in your diet.
Where’s The Sodium In Your Food?
Sodium is found in canned goods and most processed foods like cold cuts, packaged meats, and prepared foods. Most restaurant foods are saturated with sodium. McDonald’s Quarter Pounder With Cheese contains 1100 mg of sodium. Simply, sodium is added to nearly everything that requires shelf life and is saving you a step.
The best way to reduce sodium in your diet is to get only products that say sodium free, are flash frozen or are fresh. Read labels to become aware of the sodium level in products – they vary widely. There are some tomato sauces that have no added sodium. When you cook, use spices other than salt to add flavor. Let people add their own salt (keeping in mind that 1 tsp of salt contains 2325 mg of sodium) rather than letting salt embed itself during the cooking process. Kidney.org lists some other ways to reduce sodium in your diet. And you might find that if you are already taking medicine for hypertension, getting your daily sodium intake to 1500 mg might provide an opportunity to get off some medications.
You Can Reduce Dietary Sodium
I consumed nearly half my daily allotment of sodium in that one serving of sauce. And the worse thing…is that it tasted way too salty. Normally I use a tomato sauce that has no added sodium – my dear husband was sent on a nonspecific mission. I should have been more clear.
Taste buds do adjust to a low sodium diet. I make most of my meals from scratch, rarely adding salt and have my own time-saving steps by cooking in bulk and freezing or “re-creating” previously cooked meals into something different. I’ve tried to reduce sodium in my diet. I’d like to keep my ticker running smoothly and not hear it talk at all.