How Much is Too Much
Who doesn’t love a tasty salty pretzel or a mouth watering plate of french fries? Sure these things are delicious, but did you know that all of that salt could be setting you up for serious health problems in the future? While sodium does play an important role in the regulation of bodily fluids, having too much sodium in your diet can lead to hypertension (high blood pressure), raise your risk of developing kidney or heart disease and increase your risk of stroke.
So how much sodium is too much sodium? According to the American Heart Association the average person should limit themselves to no more than 2400 milligrams (about a teaspoon) of sodium per day. This may seem like a large number until you start to calculate the salt that is already in your food before you even pick up a salt shaker. To give you a few examples, a 4.5 oz can of Campbell’s Pork & Beans has 439 mg of sodium. A Subway 6” Veggie Delite on 9 Grain wheat bread with tomatoes, onions, lettuce, banana peppers and fat free red wine vinaigrette comes in at 770 mg. Kraft Macaroni & Cheese has 580 mg of sodium and a Chipolte 13” tortilla with brown rice, black beans, chicken, green salsa and guacamole packs a whopping 1820 mg of sodium! Keep in mind that the sodium amounts listed are per serving, in the case of the Mac & Cheese one serving is equal to one cup, so you can see how fast it all adds up.
The silver lining is that our preference for salty foods is acquired, meaning that over time it is possible to reduce your cravings for added dietary sodium. The first step in kicking the salt habit is reading nutritional labels on food packaging. If you dine out a lot, look up the restaurants nutritional info online before you head out or ask the wait staff for the information once you are seated. Reading product labels and other nutritional information gives you the ability to make better, lower sodium choices when dining. Another tip when dining out, request that your meal be prepared with less salt. Try substituting herbs and spices instead of salt to flavor your meals. Another trick is to buy fresh adding lots of fresh beans, fruits and vegetables to your meals instead of reaching for the salt shaker.
To live a healthier lifestyle, the average adult should in addition to adding at least 30 minutes of activity to each day, reduce sodium intake to 1500 mg of sodium. Show the people in your life how much you love them and show them how much you love yourself by reducing your sodium intake.