By Emma Brownell
Do you avoid red meat? Opt for local? Know what “the dirty dozen” means -- and always buy organic? Me too. Unfortunately, it turns out that’s not enough.
A new study links over consumption of sodium with heart disease, heart attack and stroke. It’s estimated that the effects of too much salt cost the U.S. between $10 billion and $24 billion a year.
More research into the role of sodium indicates that red meat – when not salted – is actually better for you than that ham sandwich . Why? Cured meats – including lunchmeats and hot dogs -- are loaded with sodium (on average, 4 times that of red meat). Researchers believe that it is this sodium – along with the nitrates and nitrites that preserve the meats – that leads to the associated increased risk of heart disease and diabetes.
If you think – No worries, I rarely pick up the saltshaker, and I’m not a big fan of cured meats – you’re not actually out of the woods. After learning of these studies' findings, I did a quick survey of my fridge and pantry. You may want to too. Here’s what I found:
1. Bread can be loaded with salt. The bread that I like so much – because the ingredients are simply whole-wheat flour, water, yeast and salt – has 15% of my recommended daily intake of sodium per slice. If you eat 4-6 slices a day (that’s 2 pieces for breakfast, 2 for a sandwich at lunch and maybe 2 as a snack in the afternoon), you’re now at your sodium limit for the day.
2. Pasta sauce has – on average – 15% of your recommended daily intake per serving. And if you like lots of sauce, that’s more like 30-45% per meal – just for the sauce.
3. Soup, and canned soup particularly, usually has about 30-35% of your recommended daily intake (RDI) per serving.
4. Microwavable meals can have between 20 and 40% of your RDI per serving.
5. Snacks like popcorn, crackers, pretzels & chips are vehicles for salt and sodium.