Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Weigh-less Wednesday: Not Worth Its Salt

Do you watch your sodium intake?

It's tough to keep tabs on so many things - calories, fiber, protein, carbs, sodium, etc. I prioritized two things during my weight-loss journey. My main priority was calories as I tried to stay around 1800 a day (and 2800 every fourth day). My second priority, though, was fiber. I figured that if I kept my calories at 1800 a day and got in 25-30 grams of fiber a day, everything else would take care of itself.

But that doesn't mean I could ignore sodium altogether. I wasn't quite sure how many grams of sodium were recommended each day so when I'd look at the nutrition facts and would see something like 700mg sodium per serving, I wondered if that was normal, bad or terrible.

Well, there are two schools of thought with regards to sodium intake. The Institute of Medicine recommends 2300 mg a day, which is roughly a teaspoon of salt. The average American consumes 3400 mg a day.

Not surprisingly, most excessive sodium comes from processed foods. Salt equals flavor and if processed foods didn't have so much salt, they would be bland.

Home cooking doesn't make for excessive sodium levels. According to the Center of Disease Control and Prevention, 77 percent of the sodium in an average diet comes from processed and restaurant foods. As far as lowering your sodium levels, the simple answer is to eat lots of fruits and veggies, and cook at home.

If you do have to go out, do what you can to avoid these foods, which Men's Health labeled the Saltiest Foods in America

5. Saltiest Nachos: On The Border, Grande Fajita Chicken Nachos (appetizer) - 5,180 mg sodium, 1,540 calories, 85g fat

4. Saltiest Steak Meal: Claim Jumper, Country Fried Steak - 6,157 mg sodium, 2,288 calories, 68g fat

3. Saltiest Breakfast: Perkins, Southern Fried Chicken Biscuit Platter - 6,680 mg sodium, 1,860 calories, 86g fat

2. Saltiest Burger: Chili's JalapeƱo Smokehouse Bacon Burger - 6,710 mg sodium, 2,140 calories, 139g fat

1. Saltiest Food in America: PF Chang's, Double Pan-Fried Noodles with Pork - 7,900 mg sodium, 1,652 calories, 84g fat

* for a full list of the Men's Health 30 saltiest foods in America, click here


Brandi said...

I've never officially watched my sodium intake or cared about it until I started running and losing the pounds. I guess now that I'm paying more attention to my body, I can tell in my hands the momment I get out of control with the salt shaker or eating out. Before running and my switch to more whole foods, I had never noticed it before which leads me to believe I was probably bloated all of the time with too much sodium! Thanks for the info. Shocker on some of the saltiest meals. Talk about making those blood pressures skyrocket!

Kathrin said...

Great topic!

I am actually tracking my food in an online food log. It doesn't only list calories, fat, carbs, protein etc but also vitamins and sodium. I am over my recommended sodium intake basically every day. What I didn't realize in the past is how high in sodium beans and almond milk is. Those are stables in my diet.

While I agree, that restaurant food is much higher in sodium than home cooked food... It's not a garantee for me to stay within my recommended daily intake when I eat home cooked meals.

Willoughby said...

Great topic! I know I consume too much sodium. I need to start paying more attention to it.

Tales from the Back of the Pack said...

O M G you've got to be kidding me with those sodium levels. PF Chang's noodles? GET OUT!! What are those stupid chains trying to do, kill their customers?

I'm on the road a lot for work but always have a cooler full of house food with me. It takes so much effort to pack it all every day the night before, but so worth it.

Katie A. said...

Wow! I've never really looked too much at sodium, especially since I'm a runner. But you're right, prob something to keep an eye out for.
Have a good Friday!

Jill said...

WOW - those meals are crazy high is sodium!! I do read labels but I do not count my sodium intake. It the sodium content is over 500-600, I generally put it down. Pizza is sooo bad and it's hard to find a low-sodium it's a treat if I eat it (but I'd love to eat it daily - ha).