Our Love Affair with Salt

It’s little wonder that Americans have ridiculously high blood pressure as compared with the rest of the world.

Have you ever looked at the nutrition facts on the food you eat every day specifically looking at the sodium level?

It’s shocking.

The recommended daily intake for sodium is around 3,500mg on a 2,000 calorie diet. That’s actually probably too much if you have a tendency for high blood pressure. Now let me tell you how fast you can get there.

A typical can of tomato sauce.. plain old generic every day staple tomato sauce… 2100mg.

A small cup of soup (any variety) at Panera… 1300mg.

A 6 inch turkey sub at Subway with NO cheese or condiments… 1100mg.

These are items you might assume are relatively healthy. So let me put it into perspective.

A Big Mac has 1040mg.

A Quarter Pounder is 730mg.

A Whopper is 1030mg.

So you’re really better off eating fast food than eating those “healthy” alternatives or “home cooking.” Granted fast food has more fat, but I’m not fat and I don’t have clogged arteries, I have high blood pressure.

I’ve become relentless at checking the numbers. I found an organic pasta sauce (which is quite yummy by the way) that has 350mg per 16oz jar. I have found lots of low sodium alternatives, and for quick meals I’ve even discovered that Healthy Choice Steamers are relatively low sodium (they add equal parts sodium and potassium which cancel each other out) at around 550mg. Strangely their non-steamer meals are much higher… I never salt anything when I cook it.

It’s really difficult to avoid over-salted food at restaurants, though. It doesn’t help that they don’t tell you what the nutrition facts are. Still, you can avoid things that are always high in sodium, like cheese, soup, condiments, and deli meats. You can ask them not to salt your steaks or chicken.

I’ve managed to get my daily intake down to around 1200-1500mg while getting my potassium intake up to almost 1200mg, which is incredibly difficult to do. Now everything that I don’t prepare myself tastes UBER salty. 2 weeks ago I went to the doctor and my blood pressure was 136/88 which is by far the lowest it’s been in years – and that’s without medication. So I went from hypertensive to “borderline” just by paying attention to what I’m eating.

Disclaimer: You shouldn’t make a dietary change like I have without consulting your doctor. I’m under a doctor’s supervision and am getting regular checkups and blood work. So basically, don’t get sick because you read something on a blog.