Did you know that processed and canned foods can have 12 to 15 grams of sodium on a single serving? To stay healthy we only need 3 to 5 grams of sodium a day, this means that we are taking in at least 12 times more sodium than we actually need daily!
Packaged food, pre-prepared meals, snacks and fast food all have lots of added salt in order to preserve it or give it more flavour. We are constantly bombarded with excess sodium everywhere we look at. This in return is causing severe health problems that can be easily avoidable if we are just a little more aware of what we buy and eat every day.
Some of the effects of excess sodium include:
- High blood pressure: Salt makes you retain water, forcing your whole body to work harder to get rid of any excess salt and try to balance itself again. As a consequence excess water raises your blood pressure and makes your kidneys, arteries, heart and brain work a lot harder than usual.
- Kidney stones: A high sodium diet can increase the amount of calcium in your urine. This is what creates the dreaded kidney stones.
- Increased water retention: When you have a diet that is high in sodium your body will try to compensate the excess by holding on to water. Consuming 400 milligrams of sodium, the amount in a single gram of table salt, causes your body to retain an extra 4 cups of water, which equals roughly 2 pounds. Drinking more water flushes out the extra sodium, returning water levels to normal.
What can I do?
- Buy frozen vegetables: If you don’t have time to buy and make fresh vegetables, get frozen vegetables. They are usually just blanched and immediately frozen without any added ingredients.
- Choose wisely: Reduce the amount of fast food you eat weekly and go for healthier alternatives. There are many restaurants that offer healthier choices that will help you keep the sodium intake low.
- Plan your meals: Cook at home and take your tupperware to your workplace. This way you can eat healthier and save money! Make a big batch of grains on Sunday and add fresh vegetables everyday to change the taste and the menu.
- Water intake: Drink plenty of water to help your body flush out any excess sodium.
- Include foods with potassium: Foods such as beans, fish and spinach are great sources of potassium, which can help you get rid of any excess water.
As a recap, this is a great chart from the American Heart Association that explains how excess sodium can disrupt your health: