Last week I wrote a post on grocery shopping tips. I thought I’d revisit the topic and talk about the drawbacks of taking in too much sodium. As a person who is adamant about reading labels in detail of ingredients, I have to admit that until I approached the phase of menopause, I wasn’t too well-versed in the effects that sodium had on me. At that time, my focus was more on fat, fiber and sugar content. But as my bloating days were becoming more frequent and my love for Sushi (soy sauce anyone?) never faltered, I discovered how much excess sodium was a culprit in the distention of my stomach.
Health guidelines state we shouldn’t take in more than 2000-2500 milligrams daily and I can tell you, with today’s food industry, you really have to become a detective to be aware of all the sneaky ways sodium gets in our diets. For a shocking preview, next time you are in a grocery store, pick up a can of any chicken soup (which isn’t labeled low-sodium), and take a look at the sodium content. Most cans will list around 480 to 800 milligrams per serving and there is usually two servings to each can, which really doesn’t make it difficult to eat the whole can when it is merely a low calorie soup. Eating that can of soup would bring you to almost half or just over the amount of sodium we should be ingesting in a whole day. All that sodium just from soup?
Just about everything we eat contains sodium. It’s up to us to become diligent and pay attention to the numbers. Too much sodium can cause seriously high blood pressure, leading to cardiovascular issues.
Fast food outlets produce some of the highest amounts of sodium. Many sauces and marinades we buy pre-made have exceedingly high levels.
I was cleaning out my fridge the other day and I think we all have those bottles in our fridges that stay pushed to the back because we either forget they are there or no longer use them. I decided to stop being a packrat and toss the things I wouldn’t eat and that take up space. I came across a bottle of salmon marinade that I hadn’t used for TWO YEARS! Yes, I knew it was there but hadn’t used it for a few years and yet it hadn’t gone off. That is scary in itself. Sodium and preservatives can make for a frighteningly long shelf life.
Before I finally tossed that bottle, I looked at the label and saw that the whole bottle (8oz.) contained over 9000 milligrams of sodium – 460 milligrams per teaspoon! Holy crap! It wasn’t uncommon to use half a bottle when preparing a meal for two. That is 4500 milligrams divided by two equaling 2250 milligrams per person, just as a marinade! Frightening! No wonder I had stopped using it.
I am not a big salt user and I cook almost everything from scratch and make most of my own dressings and marinades for the past few years now. When cooking, I add some sea salt for taste and never put a shaker on the table.
Often if I am in a restaurant and order a soup, I find my mouth is overwhelmed with salt and I don’t eat it. Many cooks will add extra salt to bring certain foods back to life – YUCK, or may have no idea what too much is. My taste buds are the first indicator to sodium overload. Next comes the distention of my stomach and swollen feet and fingers. These are sometimes indicators you have taken in a lot of sodium (especially if it isn’t due to a medical issue).
Do your homework. Read labels. Prepare your meals in healthier ways and your heart will thank you.