​​​​Salt – Sodium

Salt is sodium chloride, or as listed on food labels – sodium. You will not see salt listed on a food label. When reading a nutrition label on a food product, look for the Sodium content. Foods that are low in sodium (less than 140 mg or 5 percent of the Daily Value [DV]) are considered low in salt. However, the total amount of salt you consume, is the most important thing you should be concerned with. Studies show that on average, the higher an individual’s salt (sodium or sodium chloride) they consume, the higher an individual’s blood pressure. Studies also show that almost all Americans consume substantially more salt than what is required by their body.

Restaurant Items Sodium Content

If you are concerned with your sodium intake (and most of us should be), you should really be careful about what you eat at restaurants. The following is the sodium content for a few of the items we eat at the more popular restaurants:

  • Country/Chicken Fried Steak & Eggs w/Sausage Gravy(IHOPl), Sodium content: 4,050 mg
  • Premium Grilled Chicken Classic Sandwich (McDonalds), Sodium content: 1,190 mg
  • Grilled Stuffed Burrito (Taco Bell), Sodium content:2,180 mg

By keeping our blood pressure in the normal range, we can reduce our risk of coronary heart disease, stroke, congestive heart failure, and kidney disease. You should always consult a physician regarding medical conditions. Understanding food content is essential in your efforts.

Hypertension

According to the US Department of Health and Human Services, many American adults will develop hypertension (high blood pressure) during their lifetime. Lifestyle changes can prevent or delay the onset of high blood pressure and can lower elevated blood pressure. These changes include reducing salt intake, increasing potassium intake, losing excess body weight, increasing physical activity, and eating an overall healthful diet.

The following are recommendations provided by various government departments on the subject of salt intake:

  • Consume less than 2,300 mg (approximately 1 tsp of salt) of sodium per day.
  • Choose and prepare foods with little salt.
  • At the same time, consume potassium-rich foods, such as fruits and vegetables.
  • If you have hypertension, are middle-aged or an older adult, you should consume no more than 1,500 mg of sodium per day, and meet the potassium recommendation (4,700 mg/day) with food.

Where are we getting our Sodium?

There are many studies on the subject of where we are getting the salt/sodium we consume. Most studies point to 4 sources: Food Processing, Naturally Occurring, Added when Cooking, and At the Table. What is surprising is that around 75% of the sodium we consume is in Food Processing and only about 6 percent comes from our Table. We all must watch what we eat in processed foods. Read the food labels closely and watch what you eat in restaurants. This web site provides information on food and restaurant food that can help you evaluate the food you eat.

Here are some general guidelines for sodium content to think about. This information has been provided by the Agricultural Research Service Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, Release 17. As you read these, remember that the recommended allowance for an adult without hypertension/high blood pressure is 2,300 mg. If you have hypertension/high blood pressure, the amount is 1,500 mg.

Food GroupServing SizeRange (mg)
Breads, all types1 oz95-210
Frozen pizza, plain, cheese4 oz450-1200
Frozen vegetables, all types½ c2-160
Salad dressing, regular fat, all types2 Tbsp110-505
Salsa2 Tbsp150-240
Soup (tomato), reconstituted8 oz700-1260
Tomato juice8 oz (~1 c)340-1040
Potato chips1 oz (28.4 g)120-180
Tortilla chips1 oz (28.4 g)105-160
Pretzels1 oz (28.4 g)290-560

Restaurant prepared food can contain large amounts of salt/sodium. Researching this information is important. Some information on restaurant food is provided on this web site. However, ask your restaurant for information on the nutrition contained in the food you are ordering. Some restaurants publish this in one location (typically on a wall), others have hand-outs they can provide. Breakfast foods such as eggs, bacon, sausage, potatoes, biscuits, gravy, etc. which usually come on a platter can easily contain twice as much salt as recommended in one day!

Know what you are eating and then You can control your intake. Don’t hesitate to ask the restaurant for their information, and Always read the food labels (they are there for that reason).

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