Sodium and the "Silent Killer"
A lot of people may be confused about sodium. It’s essential for life but too much can really harm our health.. so how much do we really need? How much is too much and what does it do to us? Here's an article from the American Heart Association that explains it all!
It’s quite simple, extra sodium in your bloodstream pulls water into your blood vessels, increasing the total volume of blood inside your blood vessels. With more blood flowing through your blood vessels, blood pressure increases. High blood pressure may overstretch or injure the blood vessel walls and speed the build-up of gunky plaque that can block blood flow over time. The added pressure also tires out the heart by forcing it to work harder to pump blood through the body.
Here’s the scoop on high blood pressure, also known as the “silent killer” because its symptoms are not always obvious:
- It’s one of the major risk factors for heart disease, the No. 1 killer worldwide.
- It’s the leading risk factor of women’s deaths in the U.S., and the second leading risk factor for death for men.
- One-third of American adults have high blood pressure. And 90 percent of American adults are expected to develop high blood pressure over their lifetimes.
- More than 40 percent of non-Hispanic black adults have high blood pressure. Not only is high blood pressure more prevalent in blacks than whites, but it also develops earlier in life.
- Breads and rolls. A lot of bread doesn’t even taste salty, but one piece can have as much as 230 milligrams of sodium. If you have toast for breakfast, a sandwich for lunch, and dinner rolls, that can add up quickly. Thinner slices tend to have fewer calories, and less sodium as well.
- Cold cuts and cured meats. Deli or pre-packaged turkey can have as much as 1,050 milligrams of sodium per serving! Some sodium is added because these meats would spoil quickly without the added sodium solution, but it doesn’t need to be excessive. If you compare nutrition labels and look for lower sodium varieties, you will find that they are out there!
- Pizza. OK, pizza isn’t exactly known for being a health food. But you’re probably thinking the big concerns here are saturated fat and calories. But did you know that one slice may have up to 760 milligrams of sodium? It doesn’t take a lot of math to realize that a few slices can send sodium skyrocketing. Top your slices with more veggies and less cheese, and swap in a salad for some of your slices.
- Poultry. Reasonable portions of lean, skinless grilled chicken are great. But nuggets tend to have a lot of added salt, and even fresh poultry is often injected with added sodium solutions. Just 3 ounces of frozen and breaded nuggets (about the size of the palm of your hand) can add nearly 600 milligrams of sodium. Check the label to find out if your poultry has been plumped up with a salt solution – a 4 ounce serving shouldn’t have more than 100 milligrams of sodium.
- Soup. Soup can’t be bad if Mom gave it to you for the sniffles, right? Well, one cup of canned chicken noodle soup can have up to 940 milligrams of sodium. Make a big batch of your own and freeze the leftovers, or add plain frozen veggies to a lower-sodium variety of canned soup so there is less sodium per serving.
- Sandwiches. This covers everything from grilled cheese to hamburgers. When you combine the bread, meat, cheese, and condiments, you can pretty easily surpass 1,500 milligrams of sodium in one sitting. New research out this week showed that about 50 percent of adults (age 20 and older) eat at least one sandwich a day, and that sandwiches make up about 20 percent of sodium intake. Swap out some of your meat, cheese, and typical condiments for extra vegetables (try lettuce, tomato and cucumbers) and spread on some hummus or mashed avocado. It’s delicious!