By Kendra Gaffney, RD, LDN
Do you ever wake up with puffy eyes, swollen like a tick and a wedged wedding ring? If so, your diet could be tipping the charts in sodium content. Sodium is a huge contributor to water retention. When we retain water our blood volume increases, and when it increases it makes our heart work harder and sometimes faster. In time, over consumption of sodium can lead to congestive heart failure, liver disease, kidney failure, and even a stroke. Even though sodium is essential in small amounts, large quantities of sodium can be detrimental to your health.
The average American diet contains 5,000 to 10,000 mg of sodium per day, when the recommended amount is only 2500mg per day, unless otherwise directed by your physician. When we hear “SODIUM” we automatically think of table salt. To put things into perspective, one teaspoon of table salt contains ~2300mg of sodium alone. That is nearly an entire day’s worth of sodium in one teaspoon. Sodium can be found naturally in some foods, but usually in small amounts. What most people do not comprehend is how much sodium is used as preservatives in processed foods, prepared foods, and sweets to maintain shelf life. Sodium is often overlooked, and should be monitored in everyone’s diet. Be proactive in preventing disease, check SODIUM on your Nutrition Facts and make it a top priority.
The sodium content can be found in all foods with a Nutrition Facts label. Here are some tips to guide you through and assist you in healthy food choices.
· > 300mg per SERVING is considered a high sodium food
· 140-300mg per SERVING is considered moderately high in sodium
· < 140mg per SERVING is a low sodium food
· < 35mg per SERVING is a very low sodium food
· Reduced Sodium – 25% less than the original food item (this does not mean it is low sodium)
· Light or Lite – 50% less sodium than the original food item (this does not mean it is low sodium)
· Try to choose the lowest sodium food items as often as possible to aid in disease prevention or intervention.
You may also check the ingredient list for foods containing sodium. Below are a few ingredients to lookout for.
· Monosodium glutamate (MSG)
· Baking soda
· Baking powder
· Disodium phosphate
· Sodium alginate
· Sodium nitrate or nitrite