How Much Sodium is in Our Food?

Sweat contains a lot of sodium, but I think he'd be worth every last lick.

As a culture, we’ve become very conscious of carbs, fats (both good and bad) and calories… but few people pay much attention to sodium. We should.

It’s been called the forgotten killer.

Sodium is a necessary ingredient in the human body. But most of us are getting way too much. The general consensus is that we should aim for 1,500 mg of sodium each day. The average American consumes nearly 3x times the recommendation. It’s bad news, as excess sodium has been linked to:

  • high blood pressure
  • heart disease and stroke
  • pre-hypertension
  • water weight gain (when you feel and look bloated)

Because of the health issues caused by high-salt diets, excess sodium is blamed for 150,000 annual deaths in the United States. It’s a staggering – and sobering – number.

Much of the sodium we consume comes from processed and packaged foods. Go to your cupboard and grab a can of anything. Check the nutrition information. Shocking, isn’t it?

I can credit my boyfriend with turning me on to sodium awareness. As a result, I’ve found myself trying new recipes and moving away from canned and processed foods. The convenience just isn’t worth it – and nothing beats food cooked with love.

Do you have any good ways to cut back on sodium intake – other than opting for home cooked meals? Let all of us know in the comments below.

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  1. Introduce additional flavor to your foods with herbs and spices like garlic, oregano, basil, pepper, thyme and sesame.

    Always read labels for the foods you buy, including the sodium content on the nutrition facts label and the ingredients list.

    Remember that “low-fat” or “low-calorie” doesn’t mean healthy. These diet foods can also be higher in sodium because manufacturers hope that added sodium, a flavor-enhancer, will bring back the flavor that is missing since fat and other higher-calorie ingredients are removed. This is especially true for frozen dinners, which are often loaded with extra salt.

    Choose low-, no- or reduced-sodium versions of your favorite soups, frozen meals, canned foods, and snacks. Even butter is available without added salt!

    Choose fresh or frozen veggies over canned varieties!

    Olives, pickles and other items packed in brine are saturated in salt, as are many smoked and cured meats, like salami and bologna. Limit your intake of these high-sodium foods and be on the lookout for lower-sodium varieties.

    Watch out for CANNED SOUPS! Also when cooking at home, its best to always use DRIED beans! If using canned then you should wash them thoroughly!

    Basically take a vested interest in what you are doing to yourself! Read and understand what you are eating! After all you are what you eat!

    • Love the tips about herbs and spices! Too quick we are to reach for the salt shaker!

      • Morton’s Lite Salt is a good first step away from sodium

      • I think some of the easiest steps are to STAY AWAY from any kinds of potatoes that are fried. Chips, nachos, french-friends all tend to be PACKED with Sodium. Also, as you so brilliantly said, avoid canned and processed foods. They add “lethal” amounts of sodium to keep up their shelf-life. Luckily, I was raised in a house where we cooked with little or no salt, and usually when I go out to eat I don’t feel the urge to douse my veggies with 2 tablespoons of salt, but trust me I’ve seen it done too many times.

  2. A brazilian show have talked about the united staters food and how it’s full of sodium.. I think that’s the reason that a lot of you are so fat hauhauahuahuahua.

    • Humm…. I am perplexed by this.. ๐Ÿ™‚ Although it took me a few times to get the “united starers” I assume you mean Americans. And I think that the reason many people are obese is due to the ease of getting food, as well as the busy life-styles that many people lead. Its often easier to just get the fast food, which actually can be cheaper, and eating it.

      Although America is a rather “heavy” country, it is still by far the one country that is curbing the battle of obesity, and doing a great deal to introduce better knowledge to help those that suffer from excess weight.

      Support goes a long way in helping people loose the wright, words like “fat” are things that just go to add to jealously and the intimidation that one has for others that are trying…… Davey did a whole blog on this, you should check it out!

      Either way, cutting back on the sodium is just ONE step in the direction of a better and healthier life.

  3. just dont add too much salt coz all you need is just a pinch maybe a little less then a pinch if you are usign herbs but not too much of that either cause it can become over-powering and you wont be able to taste the goodness of the meats and veg.

    i like to taste the natural sweetness of veg, the crunchiness of carrots, the juices the flavours that come out.

    the natural meat taste the juices thetenderness.

    peace and love

  4. Having been diagnosed with genetic hypertension years ago (started in high school). I’ve been sodium aware for some time. And I totally agree with Larry M. Above canned soups are CRAZY, look for low sodium versions if you can find them, they still taste pretty good.

    I have used very little to no table salt for a long time, but that is one source of iodine which is a dietary necessity and why they added it to salt in the first place. I had to look a bit but found a few other natural sources of iodine online.

    Sea food, Asparagus, Garlic, Kelp, Lima beans, Mushrooms, Seaweed, Sesame seeds, Soybeans,Spinach, Summer squash, Swiss chard, Turnip greens

  5. However, don’t go overboard and cut sodium out of your diet 100%. It’s still a necessity in your diet.

    • This is true. The problem is that the amount of sodium in a normal diet can be ASTRONOMICALLY higher than normal. You shouldn’t cut ALL sodium out of your diet, just keep it under control.

      The easiest way to control sodium is to make all your own food from scratch, avoid heavily processed foods, and read labels.

  6. Hi Davey. Growing up, my dad had high blood pressure(most of it caused by me)so mom cooked without salt,used lots of spices and garlic.You do not miss what you never had!Today,I use a lot of MRS. Dash,Love it I also keep sea salt on hand for the few times it is needed, mostly by friends and company. Do you know ketchup is about 50% sugar. Stevia has receipe for ketchup and many other great things, even brownies,Great web page.Any other ideas guys and gals?—— Glenn

  7. DW,

    Great post! Your bf is right. I’ve had to keep a low sodium diet for many years now after being diagnosed with Meniere’s Disease (vertigo and hearing loss exacerbated by sodium). It is not easy. The charts on the back of most packaged foods help a lot, but one really needs to pay attention.

    In addition to Larry M’s excellent comments, be sure to watch out for some surprising types of food that one might not think contain a lot of sodium, such as:
    — breakfast cereal: some can be quite high in sodium. Those with lower sodium are often also high in fiber (shredded wheat, bran flakes, museli, etc.) … double good for you!
    — breads: again, there can be tremendous variation between types of breads and bakery brands. Almost all breads have charts on the wrapping listing sodium content.
    — cheese: most cheeses are pretty high in sodium.
    — canned fish, such as tuna and salmon
    — cold cuts: sliced turkey, ham, etc. can be loaded with sodium. Even the “low sodium” versions can still contain a tremendous amount of salt. Ask your deli to see the food nutrient table on the package. It’s often better to make a sandwich with fresh turkey or sliced grilled chicken.

    When reading the charts on prepared food, be careful to look at the portion size. You may wind up eating more than the single serving described.

    Eating out is tough for the reasons mentioned above, but fresh items such as salads, fresh fruits, and steamed vegetables are usually good choices, and good for you, too. As I’ve had to minimize my sodium intake, I’ve also found I eat much healthier!

  8. I have to say that eating whole foods is the best way to get the sodium content you need. I think salting food stimulates the body (in a bad way because it is trying to get rid of it (just like caffeine).