Sunday, May 27, 2012

Salt of the Earth -- And Then Some

There are a lot of hidden dangers in our foods. We've managed to identify some of the culprits: MSG, high fructose corn syrup and transfat.
But do those same label reading consumers, who carefully check carbohydrates and fats in a cup of yogurt also look at the sodium? I'd venture to guess they don't. I never used to until it became necessary for me to avoid excess salt.
Looking at my pantry, I never would have thought I had so much salt in my diet. I'm not a salt user. I rarely cook with it at all. About the only foods that get added salt are potatoes and eggs. Everything else, I cook as is. We don't even keep salt on the table. If someone needs it, they have to fetch it off the back of the stove. Since that requires a hike, my family doesn't usually bother.
"I'm fine," I thought. "I don't consume a lot of sodium." Then I started looking at labels.
store brand yogurt 6 oz cup = 110 mg
       store brand bread 1 slice= 120 mg
low sodium bread 1 slice = 105 mg
Jiffy Peanut Butter 2T = 150
Ramen soup 1 serving (1/2 pacakge) = 890 mg And who eats only half? Double it.

Salad dressings:
Ken's Creamy Ranch 2T = 310 mg
Kraft Zesty Italian 2T = 310 mg

Typical hamburger and hotdog toppings: (this doesn't include the hot dog or bun)
Ketchup 1T = 160 mg
Mustard 1tsp = 60 mg
pickle relish 1T = 90 mg
BBQ sauce 2T = 200 mg Here again, whose uses only 2T?

Royal jello 1/2C prepared = 115 mg
Tomato soup store brand 1/2C = 480 mg
Canned Chicken 2 oz = 140 mg
Powdered Milk 1C prepared = 125 mg
Ragu spaghetti sauce 1/2C = 480 mg
Hamburger Helper 1C prepared = 630 mg
Chedder Broccoli noodles store brand 1/2 package = 770 mg

This is a quick breeze through of my pantry, things I typically have on hand. Sodium is unavoidable unless you go all natural and prepare everything from scratch. It's insane the amount of sodium we find in everyday foods. Many of you will read this article and think that sodium can't possibly be a factor in your diet. You'll deny that it is problematic because you don't suffer from high blood pressure. So I did some looking, just a few generalized web searches to find other health aspects affected by sodium
I'm fortunate that I don't have high blood pressure, but I do suffer from Tinnitus as well as edema and water retention. After a brief conversation with my brother-in-law, who has recently been diagnosed with Meniere's Disease (see link below), I decided to start watching my sodium intake hoping to avoid progression of my tinnitus. I started reading labels and was appalled at how much sodium I take in on a regular basis. Avoding it is hard. Not all of us have the food budget to allow for the change. Nor do we have the time. In order to avoid sodium, I would have to prepare all meals from scratch. And while I enjoy cooking, this gets to be time consuming.
Blood Pressure:
Weight Gain:
Tinnitus or ringing in the ears:
Menieres Disease (What Tinnitus can become):

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