Sodium: The One You Always Overlook

Photo Feb 18, 1 07 53 PMLast Week’s Number: 211
This Week’s Number: 207

Happy Monday, loyal readers! For those of you off from work celebrating the holiday, hope you’re treating yourself to something fun. This has been a fairly successful week for me, as you can see from the numbers above – very exciting. I will admit that the past few days have been a bit of a deviation. Valentine’s Day prompted indulgence, which snowballed into more indulgence in the days following. But you know what, I needed it, and I’m anxious to be in full swing again.

My lesson this week is a very basic, but one that is very easy to forget. First, read your labels – that we all know. But when you do, don’t forget to pay attention to sodium content. Most of us, whether on a weight loss journey or not, are focused on calories, protein, carbs, and fat – and rightfully so. But we forget that too much salt can completely erase all the merits of food that appears to otherwise be healthy. This really hit home yesterday when I was looking through my cabinet in search of some beans. I’m a big lover of kidney beans and though I try and avoid them when I’m on a serious weight kick, I was in the mood for something hearty. And besides, despite being starchy, beans are good for you, right? I pulled the can off the shelf, glanced at the label, and was shocked to see that one serving of these beans contains 400mg of sodium. Normally I would eat an entire can, which would be a whopping 1500mg of sodium!! Aahh!

Let me put this into perspective. This article published by the CDC (Center for Disease Control) states that the body needs 180-500mg of sodium per day to function. The recommended adequate daily intake of sodium is 1,500mg, with the absolute maximum for healthy adults being about 2,300mg. My bootcamp max? 800mg. This innocent can of beans has almost twice that. Holy crap. What’s so bad about all this sodium, you ask? Consuming too much salt raises your blood pressure. High blood pressure is one of the top risk factors for heart attack and stroke, both of which are in the top three killers of Americans. Yikes! This is precisely why one should never turn to frozen dinners or canned soup to supplement one’s healthy lifestyle. Have you ever looked at the salt content for one of those Progresso “zero weight watcher points” soups? Last time I looked it was nearly 1,000mg… PER SERVING. Bad news.

Now don’t get me wrong, I looooove salt. I can’t stand people who say “well I don’t use salt when I cook” or restaurants who try to blame their bland food on “well some people don’t like salt” – horse manure. If you ask me, if you’re not using salt, then you’re not cooking. The difference is that when you cook your own food from fresh ingredients, you are in control of the salt content, not some manufacturer trying to mask their terrible product.

The lesson: when you’re checking labels and trying to do something good for your body, dont’ forget the sodium!

Here is a list of culprits to watch out for:

  • Frozen veggie patties
  • Canned fish (tuna, salmon)
  • Canned soups
  • Canned vegetables
  • Canned or boxed stock/broth (try comparing a box of Swanson chicken broth to a box of Trader Joe’s)
  • Salad Dressing
  • Condiments (soy sauce, hot sauce)
  • Cold cuts and other processed meats

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