Ever wonder why there’s so much back and forth about how much sodium you should consume? It can be confusing! Check out a head-to-head comparison of sodium in your diet. From recommended sodium intake levels to benefits and drawbacks, discover what role sodium plays in your diet to make the best decision for your health and well-being!
Sodium chloride (NaCl) is a vital nutrient used in healthcare to prevent human bodies from dehydration. As a rule, table salt is used as a food preservative or a seasoning to intensify the flavor. Salt is an inorganic compound, while a good percentage of dietary sodium is obtained from salt. Also, it is widely used in manufacturing to produce plastics or to de-ice roads and sidewalks.
The primary source of sodium in our diet is salt. In many countries, 80% of salt comes from processed foods such as bread, cheese, sauces, canned meats, and ready-to-eat foods, not from table salt that we add to food during cooking.
WHAT IS THE ADEQUATE INTAKE OF SALT AND SODIUM: GUIDELINES
NUTRITION GUIDELINES: SODIUM AND SALT
As an ingredient, sodium has multiple uses, including curing meat, baking, retaining moisture, thickening, enhancing flavor, and being a preservative. Interesting that some foods that don’t taste salty appear to be high in sodium, which is why judging on taste alone is not a precise way to decide on a food’s sodium content. For instance, while some foods that are high in sodium taste salty, many foods contain sodium but don’t taste salty. Also, some foods you may eat several times a day can add up to much over a day, even though an individual serving may not be high in sodium.
It is recommended to consume no more than 2,300 mg daily and move toward an ultimate limit of no more than 1,500 mg per day for most adults. Due to excessive sodium consumption, cutting back by 1,000 mg daily can significantly improve blood pressure and heart health. Remember that keeping sodium check-ups is essential to an overall healthy eating pattern. Finely ground salts are too dense, containing more sodium than coarser salts. Keep in mind that sodium content can vary widely among brands, so check the Nutrition Facts label for exact amounts. The approximate amount of sodium in 1 teaspoon includes:
· Iodized table salt 2,300 mg
· Kosher salt, course 1,900 mg
· Sea salt 2,100 mg
· Black salt 2,200 mg
· Potassium salt 0 mg
Reducing sodium intake could prevent hundreds of thousands of premature deaths and illnesses in the coming years. High sodium intake (more than 2 g per day, which corresponds to 5 g of salt per day) and insufficient intake of calcium (less than 3.5 g per day) contribute to high blood pressure and increase the risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke.
FOODS RICH IN SODIUM: WHAT ARE THEY?
Over 40% of the sodium consumed daily comes from only several types of food. You may be surprised to discover which foods are on the list because they do not always taste salty. For example, let’s have a closer look at your sandwich. The top slice of bread typically contains up to 200 mg of sodium, and the bottom piece of bread contains another 200 mg. A teaspoon of mustard can contain 130 mg of sodium, and a slice of cheese may have over 300 mg of sodium. 7 slices of turkey can have up to 700 mg of sodium. All of that together adds up to 1,600 mg of sodium in one sandwich. Surprise? So, here is a list of the foods rich in sodium:
· Cold cuts
· Burritos and tacos
At the same time, bananas, tomato juice, spinach, and acorn squash also secure good levels of potassium. Sodium, on the other hand, is in a low supply of fruits and vegetables but abundant in processed foods.
HOW SODIUM AFFECTS THE HEALTH?
Sodium is the most important element needed to maintain blood plasma volume and water-alkaline balance, transmission of nerve impulses, and normal cell functioning. Excess sodium results in negative health consequences, including increased blood pressure.
High salt intake is also associated with increased calcium excretion, which can lead to bone loss (osteoporosis). Dietary fibers from whole grains, vegetables, berries, and fermented foods contain potassium, which helps lower blood pressure.
Salt/sodium intakes are associated with cardiovascular disease, which can be relieved with a low-salt diet. In addition, whatever the salt level consumed, sodium is stored, and it takes up to a month to release it from our bodies. Our body regulates its salt and water balance by releasing excess sodium in the urine.
Overly consumption of sodium/salt may cause water retention that results in:
· Weight gain
Our body needs various minerals in small amounts to function properly, covering bone and tooth formation and normal nerve function. While some minerals are needed in greater quantities than others, such as calcium, phosphorus, sodium potassium, and chloride, others are needed in smaller amounts and are called trace minerals, such as iron, zinc, selenium, and copper. Although required only in small amounts, minerals are important in any diet.
Potassium is the most critical microelement necessary for maintaining the total volume of fluids in the body, acid, and water-electrolyte balance, and normal functioning of cells. It has been established that increasing potassium intake lowers systolic and diastolic blood pressure in adults. It is important to maintain a balance of sodium and calcium.
HOW TO REDUCE SODIUM CONSUMPTION
You can easily achieve your goal by grasping into sodium in foods and discovering new ways to prepare foods. If you manage to reduce the amount of sodium consumed, your strive for sodium will decrease over time.
· Cook your food: Minimize the consumption of packaged sauces and instant products.
· Add flavor without adding sodium: Restrain from the table salt you add to foods when cooking. Try no-salt seasoning blends and spices instead of salt.
· Make “fresh” choices: Buy fresh meat and seafood rather than processed alternatives. Check the package on fresh meat to see if salt water has been added.
· Choose proper veggies: Consume fresh vegetables and avoid frozen or salted varieties.
· Decrease your portion size: The less food you consume, the less sodium you get. Cook smaller portions at home and minimize portions when eating out.
On the contrary, sodium deficiency comes from increased excretion rather than insufficient intake. Low sodium levels in your body can come from diuretic use, overly water consumption, heavy vomiting or diarrhea, or excessive physical activity, which can lead to:
· Muscle Cramps
· Brain Damage (in severe cases).
In a like manner, excess sodium intake can result in abdominal pain, high blood pressure, and even convulsions.
On a hot and humid day, when sweating, the body loses very little salt, so even in heat and high humidity conditions, excess salt is not needed; however, drinking water is important.
It is important to pay attention to the basic diet and make it 80% of whole food! I talk about this in each of my publications! So, you can really change your health, body, and well-being!
Download the Proper Eating app on iOS or Android and get timely reminders on your phone to drink enough water daily and maintain your body’s water balance. The transition to proper nutrition can be simple and effective if you follow the advice of qualified professionals.