While our bodies only require around 250 mg of sodium/day, the average sodium consumption in the US for consumers is closer to 5000 mg/day! No wonder hypertension (aka high blood pressure) affects 3 in every 10 Americans.
Interestingly, salt is an acquired taste and the more we consume it, the more salt that is required as our taste buds become desensitized.
In my effort to go low-sodium I've developed a few guidelines in regards to food to avoid:
Cured and processed meats - ham, bacon, Canadian bacon, deli meats (salami, bologna, et al), sausage.
Salty and smoked fish - Canned tuna and salmon, Smoked salmon, smoked whitefish, sardines, anchovies, salted cod, herring.
Foods prepared in brine - pickles, olives and sauerkraut.
Prepared and packaged foods - seasoned rice, salted beans (buy dry or canned Eden brand no-sodium added!), canned soups (unless it's no salt added), most prepared breads, frozen appetizers and main dishes.
Cheeses,especially processed varieties
Crackers and snack foods
Baking products - baking soda and baking powder.
Canned foods - canned and instant soups, canned vegetables, tomato sauce and tomato paste.
Condiments, sauces and seasoning blends - ketchup, salted gravies and sauces (chili, barbecue, soy, steak, Worcestershire), seasoned salt, meat tenderizers and monosodium glutamate (MSG).
Now, you may be thinking, "well, what the heck can I eat?". The good news is, that with a little due-diligence and careful label reading, you will find that there are a multitude of products in the marketplace that not only taste GREAT, but are low sodium as well.
A few of my favorites include:
Eden No Salt Added Beans. You name it, Eden makes it - Aduki, Black Beans, Black Eye Peas, Butter Beans, Cannellini, Garbanzo, Kidney, yadda yadda. I use these in chili's, salads and even have made my own hummus using the garbanzo beans. A 1/2 cup serving of Eden's Cannelini beans has a mere 40 mg/sodium compared to a half cup of other Cannelini beans which have 390 mg/sodium. ImagineOrganic Low Sodium Free Range ChickenBroth. In an ideal world I would simply make my own salt free Chicken Broth. In the real world, when I'm making a sauce and need to de-glaze my pan, I reach for Imagine's Low Sodium Chicken Broth. With 95 mg/sodium per cup, this is a no-brainer over Imagine's regular Chicken Broth which has a whopping 570 mg/sodium per cup. Makes this a no-brainer plus I love the re-sealable carton!
Applegate Farms Cheddar Cheese - Medium. I can give up alot of foods but cheese isn't one of them. I'm a cheese junkie, but I try to be a healthy one at that which is why I like Applegate Farms cheeses which is made from cows not treated with recombinant Bovine Growth Hormone (rBGH). As far as cheddar's go, this medium cheddar has a good bite to it, is relatively low in fat (6g), significantly lower in sodium than other cheddar's I looked at at 120 mg/serving, and the single slices make it very simple in regards to portion control.
Muir Glen Organic No Salt Added Tomato Tomato Sauce and FireRoasted Tomatoes. I love Paul Newman, but a 1/2 cup serving of his garlic pasta sauce has a whopping 580 mg/sodium, and that's 'low' compared to many other jarred sauces. I'll stick with a half cup of the Muir Glen at 15 mg/sodium and toss in my own, fresh roasted garlic. Oh, and their No Salt added Fire Roasted Tomatoes is killer in homemade chili!!
As a self-confessed Iron Chef wannabe who is on a salt restricted diet, I am always on the lookout for tasty, lower-sodium food products. If you have any recommendations please post them here!
I'd would really love to hear about them and feel that it is extremely important that we recognize and support the food manufacturer's who are looking out for our health! Unfortunately, there are far to few.