Put down that salt shaker
I'm a healthy eater. As a co-founder of this site, I better be, right? Since I've been practicing what we preach for several years, I no longer need to analyze the dietary content on food labels. I know what's good for me, and the junk that isn't (e.g., doughnuts, bacon, french fries, etc.) I avoid like a cyclist avoids glass on the road. So, it came as a HUGE surprise when I learned that the healthy foods I've been eating may be WAY over the recommended daily sodium allowances. Unlike many Americans, I don't use the salt shaker for anything and most of the foods in the fridge are low sodium and/or low fat. Still, the amount of salt in my daily healthy diet astounded me.
High sodium intake is a major contributor to high blood pressure (25% of the U.S. population has high BP), which is a leading cause of stroke and heart attacks. The RDA of sodium is 2,000mg but many recommendations are between 1,000 and 3,000mg. By all accounts, high sodium intake is 4,000mg and above.
Check out the following sample "healthy" meals' salt content:
Pancakes made with 1 cup lowfat Bisquick = 1300 mg
1 cup Skim milk = 120 mg
fresh fruit and OJ = negligible
1 can of Organic Vegetable soup = 1360mg
turkey sandwich = 500mg with mustard = 150mg and wheat bread = 150mg
1 energy bar = 200mg
spinach salad with 2 TBSP non-fat Italian dressing = 500mg
Sushi with 1 TBSP of low sodium soy sauce = 700mg
Total 1 day sodium intake = 5000mg !!
Here's another example:
bowl of healthy cereal and cup of skim milk = 420mg
1 bagel = 600mg with 2 TBSP of peanut butter = 150mg
1/2 cup cottage cheese = 360mg
1 serving of Baked Potato Chips = 210mg
Spinach salad with 2 TBSP non-fat Ranch dressing and chicken breast = 350mg
Nutrition bar = 200mg
Pasta with Marinara sauce from jar = 850mg and topped with parmesean cheese = 100mg
broccoli = negligible sodium
#2 Total Sodium = 3240 mg
Both totals are well above the RDA of 2,000mg. Notice, other than the single nutrition bar snack, I'm not accounting for any other munchies throughout the day. And, I only drink water. This is too much sodium, even if I do workout...consider:
If an average person runs at a 10k pace for 30 minutes, he/she will produce about .75 to 1 liter of sweat (again, that's at a 10k pace!). In that 1 liter of sweat, there will be approximately 1,000mg of sodium. So, if I go out and run an easy warm up for 10 minutes, then run at 10k pace for 30 minutes, then cool down for another 5 (totaling about 45 minutes), I will likely have sweat out about 750 to 1,000mg of sodium. Cycling and swimming, of course, produce less sweat than running.
Going back to our daily totals of 5,000mg and 3200mg, subtracting even 1,000mg from the totals still does not put me under the 2,000mg recommendation. And, all of my run workouts are not performed at 10k pace--many are at an easy/moderate pace producing much less sweat.
I certainly don't need to drink any Gatorade to replenish my sodium loss, now do I? And I certainly shouldn't even consider picking up the salt shaker at any meal--thankfully, I don't.
One TBSP of table salt equals about 1,000mg of sodium. It's difficult for me to conceptualize that on certain days i've been eating 5 TBSP of table salt during my "healthy" meals. Not any more!