Sodium, or salt as it is more commonly known, is a metallic element (Na) and a vital mineral for a healthy lifestyle in humans. Sodium helps us out in many ways, including assisting the muscles and nerves in their multitude of functions. It is important that any person consume sodium in their diet. However, too much of this decidedly good thing can be a categorically bad thing.
Along with potassium, sodium floats around in our bodies, always present in the fluid surrounding our cells, and the two minerals work in tandem, enabling cells to respond to stimuli and ultimately controlling the water balance in our bodies.
For an average, healthy adult, the reference nutrient intake (RNI) for sodium is around 1600-2300mg per day. Exceeding this limit can cause a variety of problems and put you at high risk for some very serious afflictions.
Surprising Foods that are high in Sodium
Salted, cured ham, marinades, dips, fast food, junk food, pizza, and many other items – we are all aware that these foods are very high in sodium. We can taste it. In fact, through the process of evolution, “salty” is one of the only legitimate flavors our tongues are able to pick out. Our noses do the rest, via tiny hairs attached to our brain.
We know which foods are high in sodium and thus know to eat those in moderation. But what about other types of food – are there any sneaky surprises we have to be aware of? The answer to that is an unfortunate and emphatic yes! What you’re feeding your children and what you’re eating yourself, while you may think it is harmless enough, could actually be increasing your sodium intake exponentially.
This is a favorite of kids and adults everywhere. To be safe, we usually purchase the low-fat milk, due to its lower fat and lower caloric count. However, the sodium is still there. The average glass of chocolate milk contains around 150mg of salt.
How many of us out there are eating more salads in order to get in better shape and to improve our overall health? A lot of us are. However, most salad dressings contain an exorbitant amount of sodium per two-tablespoon serving, around 350mg. For a larger salad or multiple salads per day, you could be consuming over 3000mg of salt in just the dressing.
You can find a lot of premixed rice and pasta packages at the store, including flavors like beef, chicken, Spanish, etc. Salt is the main ingredient here, with other flavors playing in the background. On average, a serving of one of these readymade rice packs has about 770mg of sodium per one-cup serving.
People on diets often integrate cottage cheese and other cheese products into their diet. They taste great, they’re low in calories by and large, and most cheese-based products actually use low-fat milk, so they’re low in fat. However, a lot of cottage cheese brands out there contain 400mg worth of sodium per serving.
Most would think that tomatoes are the number-one ingredient in a red pasta sauce, but, to scale, these pasta sauces actually contain more salt than anything else. One measly cup of most pasta sauces will contain a whopping 1,200mg of salt.
Side Effects of too much Sodium
Although increasing your sodium intake will not guarantee that you suffer any dire consequences, the risk that you will is always present. Consuming too much sodium puts you an elevated risk of many conditions, including:
- High blood pressure
- Heart disease
- Stomach cancer
- Nerve damage
- And more
Seasoned Bread Crumbs
On a diet, you probably wouldn’t use a lot of seasoned bread crumbs, but there are many practical applications for this food item. However, there is a very large amount of sodium packed into seasoned bread crumbs, around 3,000mg per one-cup serving on average.
The surprise here is that breakfast pastries (Pop-tarts and other brands) are actually sweet, so you wouldn’t necessary think that they were packing a hefty salt punch. But most pastries contain in excess of 200mg of sodium per serving.
When we check food labels, we are mostly looking for calorie count, the amount of fat and certainly the number of carbohydrates per serving. The more health-conscious among us also check for cholesterol levels. Knowing about the affects of sodium, however, it is time to start checking for the amount of salt contained in an item per serving.
Do not let these numbers sneak up on you. Salt can be masked by other flavors and you will not realize you are increasing your intake until it is too late. Always check the sodium content of a food and always remember to opt for the low-sodium alternatives whenever possible.