What's the Deal with Sodium?

What's the Deal with Sodium?

We already know that a high intake of sodium can lead to many health problems, but should we completely exclude it from the routine? After all, every day, we see thousands of news articles that recommend reducing sodium in food. The goals are always the same: to have a healthier life, in addition to preventing and assisting in the treatment of some diseases, such as diseases of the cardiovascular system.

Are you consuming this nutrient in excess? In fact, how to know? What foods are high in sodium? Keep reading and we'll tell you!

What is sodium and how is it different from salt?

For starters, you need to understand the difference between salt and sodium. The salt we use in the kitchen, to salt and prepare food, is sodium chloride. It has approximately 40% sodium and 60% chlorine. So 5g of table salt is not the same as 5g of sodium. When following a recommendation or reading the nutritional information on industrialized food labels, you must know this difference.

Sodium is a nutrient naturally present in food, which plays an important role in various body regulations, such as blood pressure, nerves, muscles, extracellular fluids, and blood volume.

But if sodium is a nutrient with so many essential functions, why is it seen as a villain? The big problem is overconsumption.

What is the ideal daily intake of salt?

The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that the maximum consumption of salt is up to 5g a day. Salt control in food preparation is important and the use of strategies such as herbal salt and other natural seasonings are necessary for this reduction.

What are the health problems resulting from excess sodium?

Are many. One of the most well-known diseases that can be developed by excessive consumption of sodium in food is hypertension. A disease that requires a greater effort from the heart to pump blood to the body. Hypertension is one of the main risk factors for the occurrence of cerebrovascular accidents (CVA), arterial aneurysm, infarction, kidney, and heart failure.

Fluid retention is another problem caused by excess sodium. The body needs water to dilute this mineral, leaving it retained in our body to carry out this process. We cannot even think that drinking fluids would increase retention. On the contrary, dehydration can make it worse. The more water you drink, the more you will be able to eliminate it in your urine.

What foods are high in sodium?

The main responsible for excess sodium consumption are processed foods. You must be thinking: “the industrialized ones again”. Yes, you can and should think this way, because that's the reality! Unfortunately, industrialized products bring us many harms and almost no benefits. 

The main foods rich in sodium are:

    1. Processed meats such as sausages, bologna, hams, and sausages;
    2. Snacks and crackers in packets;
    3. Instant noodles;
    4. Ready-made seasonings;
    5. Ketchup and mustard;
    6. Ready-made cakes;
    7. yellow cheeses;
    8. Canned vegetables;
    9. Ready-made soups and sauces.

    Another important point is the use of sodium in unsalted products. Sodium is also present in preservatives, sweeteners, yeasts, and flavour enhancers. Always pay attention to the ingredients list and avoid foods that contain the names sodium nitrite and sodium nitrate, sodium cyclamate, sodium saccharin, sodium bicarbonate, and monosodium glutamate in their composition.

    To reduce sodium consumption, bet on a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole foods, legumes, and homemade preparations. When buying food, always choose the one with the least amount of sodium, fat, and sugar. Also, replace salt with natural seasonings such as garlic, onion, lemon, green seasoning, fresh and/or dehydrated herbs.

    Knowing this, choose your meals correctly to take better care of your health. Would you like to try a meal delivery in Toronto? Here at Power Kitchen, we use fresh, local, and in-season produce for the best quality ingredients in our meals. Find the perfect weekly meal plan for your needs!

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