Currently the American Heart Association recommends 1500 mg of salt daily or LESS. One measly little TEASPOON of salt has 2,300 mg of sodium. So what? Why does it matter? According to the CDC, the average american consumes almost 3500 milligrams of salt a day. That is over double what we should be consuming. The biggest concern with a high sodium diet is high blood pressure. Over years, high blood pressure can lead to major health problems such as kidney damage, vision loss, stroke and heart failure. Changing your eating habits now can have a big impact on your future health.
So How on earth are you ever going to kick your dearest companion…SALT?
The two biggest places we consume our salt from is processed foods and eating out. Look up any package of Pasta Roni or Hamburger Helper and you will be astounded by the amount of salt. How about a jar of Salsa? You would be surprised the foods that can be loaded with salt, and dont even bother picking up a package of ramen noodles again. One package of ramen noodles contains over 1500 mg of sodium!
So first, what are the saltiest foods one should avoid when trying to achieve a low sodium diet?
1. Fast food. Just a simple double cheeseburger and fries will set you back 1230 mg . In fact eating out in general is going to put a lot of sodium in your diet. Try to look at the sodium content of the menu before ordering. Items that have to be made fresh will probably be your best bet.
2. Table salt. Of course you knew this was coming. Just dont even add it to your food when you cook. Stay away. In fact did you know that baking soda and baking powder are also high in salt? For some salt alternatives, check out my other article here!
3. Dressing and Sauces. Now I’m taking away your SAUCE? I know I know it breaks my heart too. Your beloved terayaki sauce, soy sauce, fish sauce and steak sauce are all packed with sodium. Time to get with the kids and start singing “Let it go” as you clean out the cabinets.
4.Cured meat. Meat is cured with SALT! Our favorite foods such as salami and bacon are now a rare treat. This also applies to many of the cold cut varieties we use on our sandwiches. Welcome to the world of adulthood. Might as well pass the bacon to the dog.
5. Pickeld foods. Relish, saurkraut, pickles, jalapenos. All of these foods are processed with salt and carry a hefty sodium content. Try to eat in moderation.
6. Canned foods. Canned beans, veggies, pretty much all canned foods are going to be loaded with salt. Try to stick with frozen vegetables and raw beans ( I know I know its no fun to cook them yourself). If you must use canned veggies or beans, I recommend rinsing them lightly in a strainer if you can. Other canned items like soups and broths may have lower sodium options, which is always worth a try.
7. Roasted nuts and seeds. Sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds and many nuts are salt roasted and can pack a hefty salt punch. Try eating pre shelled sunflower seeds, or unsalted/raw nuts.
8. Packaged soups. This is your typical ramen noodles, cup of noodles, maruchen ramen. So easy. So cheap! Its hard to stay away! However, simply cooking the noodles themselves without the sauce and making your own seasoning might be a better option.
The bottom line is, if you want to reduce the sodium you are consuming, these saltiest foods have to be eaten in moderation or avoided completely. Drinking plenty of water, using salt alternatives and eating foods high in potassium can help combat high blood pressure and the many complications that stem from it.