Facebook Pixel

The Dangers of Sodium & 3 Ways To Cut Back

By September 1, 2010 - 11:52am

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.

We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

Healthy Eating

Get Email Updates

Health Newsletter

Receive the latest and greatest in women's health and wellness from EmpowHER - for free!