Lately in nutrition, there has been much talk about the benefits of a salt reduced diet, or lack thereof. The salt we eat is made of two components – sodium and chloride. Consuming chloride has negligible effects on our health, but too much sodium on the other hand, can cause severe health problems. Why should we monitor our sodium consumption? Let us explain why having too much sodium can be harmful to your body – especially towards your heart health.
Sodium is a nutrient that is critical component in the fluids that surround our cells – the fluid is called the plasma. Sodium regulates the volume of the plasma, which makes up about half of our blood’s volume. Sodium is especially harmful when too much accumulates in our bloodstreams. Increased amounts of sodium in the blood causes higher blood volume which increases the pressure on the arteries. This contributes to higher blood pressure (hypertension), and increases the likelihood of heart disease and stroke.
To proactively protect your health, here are some foods you can avoid to help lower your sodium intake in healthy ways.
Processed red meats
Packaged meats such as ham, bacon, sausage etc. are typically are high in sodium which is added as a preservative. A serving may contain over half of your daily recommended sodium load. This food group also contributes to earlier mortality, breast cancer, heart failure and other diseases.
Convenience poultry foods like nuggets, for example, are high in sodium as it is injected during the processing. A very small serving can alone have a quarter of the sodium you need for the entire day.
While soups are often thought of as “sick food”, a single can often contains 1,000mg of sodium. It is best to make soups from scratch but if you do buy canned soups be sure to read the back label to find a soup with low sodium content.
We all love pizza – it’s convenient, affordable, and it tastes good. However, often we don’t realize the amount of sodium one slice can contain, which is a third of what we need all day. Therefore, three slices of pizza would put us at our sodium cap for the day. But what about breakfast and dinner? This is why we should be weary of what sodium does and how to avoid taking in an unhealthy amounts.
Mind Body Green offers these 6 suggestions on how to cut back on your sodium intake:
- Avoid processed, prepared, and pre-packaged foods.
- Choose lower sodium versions of foods.
- Read food labels.
- Eat fruit and vegetables as snacks.
- Choose unsalted nuts and seeds.
- Avoid canned vegetables and soups high in salt, you can reduce your intake easily.
It is important to keep in mind that we do need sodium, but we should aim for less than 2300mg per day. Going above this threshold puts strain on our hearts, so let’s have a heart and help ourselves out!