I was reading Better Homes and Gardens last night (yes, it’s one of my favorite magazines, even though it makes my best housekeeping attempts seem shoddy). Anyway, they had an article about salt and they included some interesting facts. We all, of course, need salt. But how much? The current “official” recommendation is around 2000 mg/day, but the reality is that we only NEED 180-500 mg/day. Whaaaaaaat???? Furthermore, when you look at the ingredients panel on your packaged foods and see the percentage daily requirement, that figure is based on an old recommendation of 2400 mg/day! Totally misleading.
It is definitely true that if you sweat a ton or drink a whole whole lot of water, you will need more salt than average, but endurance fanatics are probably the only ones who really ever need to worry about that. The rest of us should be more concerned with cutting it way down.
How much salt do you get per day? Start adding it up, because it may be more than you think. Yesterday I ate mostly fresh foods, but the few packaged foods (and especially the restaurant leftovers) really hiked up the sodium intake. I looked in my cupboards and refrigerator to see just how much sodium various products contain.
Coconut Bliss Dark Chocolate Ice Cream———- 10 mg per 1/2 cup (not bad at all, and it’s DE-licious, just so you know!)
Vegan Hot Dogs (Worthington Big Franks)——– 220 mg per dog (OH MY! That would add up fast)
Italian Bread Crumbs——————————— 360 mg per 1/4 cup (What, really???!!)
Organic Whole Wheat Pasta————————–10 mg per 1 cup dry (ok, good)
La Preferida Black Beans——————————400 mg per 1/2 cup (that’s all my daily sodium right there!)
100% Pure Maple Syrup——————————5 mg per 1/4 cup (sweet…… hahahahahahahaha!)
Brer Rabbit Blackstrap Molasses——————–65 mg per 1 Tablespoon (Wow, I never thought of this having sodium in it!)
Herdez Salsa Verde————————————310 mg per 2 Tablespoons (Uh-oh, my husband eats this in CUP increments!!!)
Frozen Tater Tots————————————–300 mg per 10 pieces (a guilty pleasure of ours for sure!)
Anyway, there’s a sampling. I think it shows that some foods can surprise us when it comes to sodium content. My best advise it to pack your diet full of as many non-processed foods as possible and your sodium intake will automatically decrease. Fresh veggies don’t contain salt (and you really don’t need to add it)! You may think that food tastes bland without as much salt, but give it a few weeks. Your taste buds will adjust, the food’s natural flavors will become more apparent, and you’ll eventually wonder why you used so much salt in the first place!
One last note: Sea salt is preferable to regular table salt in that it may contain more trace elements and have a better taste, but the sodium chloride content is the same by weight. Excess sea salt will also still contribute to diseases like hypertension, heart disease, and stroke. In other words, don’t think that you’re off the hook for regulating your sodium intake just because you use sea salt!