The average American consumes a teaspoon and a half of sodium every day, which is more than double what our bodies need. Eighty percent of that salt that we eat is added by the food industry. Researchers write, (in the British Medical Journal), that a 50 percent salt reduction in daily salt intake “could prevent approximately 100,000 deaths from heart attack and stroke in the United States every year. The best offense is a good defense, we should take the time to become more informed about the salt & calorie levels in the foods we eat.
Both salt & calories can have an adverse affect on our health, especially for those with high blood pressure or weight issues that might stem from other physical problems such as inactive thyroids. By adjusting on the intake of one item in your diet you can make a significant reduction in both salt and calories. Personally, I do not really like this information, because the issue is with breads, prominently white breads.
American’s eat a lot of fast foods, we go to McDonald’s for a hamburger and we get slammed with salt and calories mainly from the bread. A McDonald’s hamburger contains 520 mg of salt and 250 calories. The bun itself contains 240 mg of salt and 150 calories. You could cut nearly 50% of your salt intake and 70% of your calories simply by tossing the bun. Or if your having a burrito, toss the tortilla, (see the image below).
With regards to breads, the overwhelming advice is to choose breads that say “100 percent whole grain” or list “whole wheat” as the first ingredient. If the label doesn’t say “whole” first, it isn’t a whole-grain product. While whole-grain breads are significantly better for you, it does not mean that the salt or calorie levels are any different than white breads, check the nutrition fact labels.
Compare the nutrition labels between canned veggies and frozen vegetables, sodium is often used as a preservative for many foods, especially the canned varieties. Look for cans with labels that say “no salt”. Watch out for the salt & calorie levels in TV dinners and other prepared frozen foods. Check the nutrition fact labels on salad dressings before buying them, and compare them. Try buying sardines in olive oil, they contain 50% less salt. And change from your standard salt to half salt, or to a complete salt substitute as seen below.
Be aware of the salt and calories in soft drinks, don’t overlook fruit drinks, they often contain more salt than sodas. Check the labels on those cheap noodle packs that seem so convenient to take to work and warm up.
Compare cereal labels for lower salt and calorie varieties. Did you know that mini wheats have no salt? One could drastically cut daily salt intake by 33% simply by eating a healthy breakfast, (based on eating 3 meals a day). Eat more fresh vegetables and fruits, avoid processed foods such as sliced or prepared meats. Look for ways to use spices instead of salt to compensate for flavor in home cooked meals. It’s all about becoming more aware, investigating a little more, and reading the nutrition fact labels.