Watching out for hidden sodium

Feb 14, 2011 By Dama Ewbank (Kimmon)
Don't let salt catch you by surprise
Credit: iStock photo

It is well documented that, over time, a diet high in sodium can lead to many ill health effects, especially on the cardiovascular system. A high-sodium diet can also negate the effects of diuretics, an important treatment for hypertension.

The current recommendation for sodium intake is 2,300 milligrams (about 1 teaspoon) per day for healthy individuals, and 1,500 milligrams a day for people with , , and certain groups at high risk for these diseases. These recommendations include all sources of sodium¯from salt naturally found in foods to salt added during processing, preparation or before eating.

Unfortunately, says Rachel Wagner, a registered dietitian with UC Health University Hospital, it can be very hard to follow a low-sodium diet. Processed foods, frozen dinners, canned vegetables/soups and many other foods that are in the typical American diet are all high in salt.

Wagner says we must help people to understand "hidden” sources of sodium and suggest lower sodium options.

Hidden sources include:

Salad dressings
Canned or jarred tomato sauces
Cheeses
Seasoned bread crumbs
Flavoring packets
Barbecue sauces
Cereal

Other foods, especially items like condiments, might be recognized as high in sodium but could be higher than you think (1 tablespoon of soy sauce can contain 1,800 milligrams or more of sodium). Spices can even cause uncertainty, as many mixtures are really salt/spice blends.

"To avoid confusion,” Wagner says, "make sure the label says ‘salt/sodium free’ or that salt is not listed in the ingredient list. It is also important to remember that kosher salt and sea salt are salt.”

The amount of sodium listed on the food label is based on the stated serving size. Wagner says that if the percentage of sodium, as listed on the food label, is 5 percent or less, the food will be lower in sodium.

Healthy Eating Alternatives

Eating fresh meat, poultry and fish instead of canned, processed or flavored/brined options will lower your , says Wagner. Choosing fresh, frozen or canned vegetables without added salt and avoiding flavored/creamed canned vegetables will also help. When choosing tuna, select vacuum-sealed varieties.

Try seasoning foods with spices and herbs. A good reference can be found from the American Heart Association (www.heart.org). Search for "shaking the salt habit” and then click the link for seasoning alternatives.

"While it may take some time to learn to prefer foods without salt, it will happen, and the health benefits make it well worth the effort,” Wagner says.

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User comments : 10

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Simon_Dufour
not rated yet Feb 14, 2011
Me and my girlfriend are watching our salt intake since we both do pre-hypertension and we're both 25. It's really hard to keep a good diet and watch our salt intake at the same time. A lot of products labeled as "Healthy choice" are rich in salt. Sometime over 40%. Sauce are almost always full of salt too.

I don't calculate my sodium intake but I'm sure it can be pretty low most of the time. It's really hard to keep track of.
NotAsleep
not rated yet Feb 14, 2011
Beware of any powdered spices (i.e. garlic powder, onion powder). They usually contain mostly salt
Mesafina
not rated yet Feb 14, 2011
It's not easy to keep from poisoning one's self these days... so many delicious poisons to choose from! NOM NOM
kaasinees
2 / 5 (1) Feb 14, 2011
uhm... oxygen is a poison to.. yet require it to live.
and it depends on your genes which substances will be most likely to cause illnes for you. Most of these articles are completely biased.
Mesafina
5 / 5 (1) Feb 14, 2011
I was being sarcastic :) But yes anything in excessive quantities can harm you, no buts about it.
NotAsleep
not rated yet Feb 15, 2011
uhm... oxygen is a poison to.. yet require it to live.
and it depends on your genes which substances will be most likely to cause illnes for you. Most of these articles are completely biased.

Yes, this is definitely biased towards American lifestyles. One of the side effects of having all the food we could ever want whenever we want it is that we had to find ways to make it last a lot longer... which means way too much hidden salt.

The difference between oxygen and salt, though, is that they aren't supplementing our food with excess oxygen
kaasinees
1 / 5 (1) Feb 15, 2011
uhm... oxygen is a poison to.. yet require it to live.
and it depends on your genes which substances will be most likely to cause illnes for you. Most of these articles are completely biased.

Yes, this is definitely biased towards American lifestyles. One of the side effects of having all the food we could ever want whenever we want it is that we had to find ways to make it last a lot longer... which means way too much hidden salt.

The difference between oxygen and salt, though, is that they aren't supplementing our food with excess oxygen


you are wrong yet again.
Why do you think tea can be considered healthy even if it contains a few parts lead? It is the anti oxidation effects.
NotAsleep
not rated yet Feb 15, 2011
But... antioxidants REMOVE oxygen/free radicals... and I was actually agreeing with you (while worrying about my over-salted american diet).
kaasinees
not rated yet Feb 15, 2011
But... antioxidants REMOVE oxygen/free radicals... and I was actually agreeing with you (while worrying about my over-salted american diet).


Yes you are right. But the oxygen from the food you eat must go somewhere. Also i am not really sure why would american food be so different from other countries? And i know that americans like to eat food cause there is alot of it.
NotAsleep
not rated yet Feb 15, 2011
We have stricter regulations than most countries on biological contamination in food and NO regulation on salt content so most companies take the super cheap route and inundate their products with salt.

Lately, consumer demand has been driving the move to "salt free" or "reduced salt" options, although these are relatively new