Sure, you need some sodium in your diet, but getting large amounts can lead to heart problems later on in life. Usually, the foods with the most sodium are those that are processed or canned, since the added sodium acts as a preservative and keeps the food fresh for as long as possible. If you’re starting to have problems from too much sodium in your diet, you’ll need to make changes pronto.
Few things are quite as relaxing as a piping hot bowl of soup on a chilly evening. Unfortunately, that bowl of soup is like one big pot of sodium. One cup of canned chicken noodle soup has more than 1,100 milligrams of sodium – that’s almost half of your daily sodium allowance. You’ll get over 1,060 milligrams from 1 cup of chunky chicken vegetable and 1,010 milligrams of sodium from a cup of chunky vegetable soup. If clam chowder is your weakness, you’ll wind up with more than 990 milligrams of sodium from 1 cup. Tomato soup isn’t much better. One cup of tomato soup offers nearly 750 milligrams of sodium.
You may think that deli sandwich is lean and healthy, but it’s most likely packed with sodium. Two 1-ounce slices of extra lean ham have a whopping 810 milligrams of sodium. Adding on two 1-ounce cuts of salami sneaks another 600 milligrams of sodium into your sub. If you prefer corn beef on a toasty roll, you’ll wind up with over 850 milligrams, just from 3 ounces of canned corn beef alone.
Seafood comes from salt water, so naturally many varieties are packed with more sodium than you may realize. Three ounces of steamed Alaska king crab contain more than 910 milligrams of sodium. If you have imitation surimi-based crab meat instead, you’ll get 715 milligrams of sodium from a 3-ounce portion. Canned blue crab is slightly better. You can have a large 1-cup serving of this type of seafood and get only 450 milligrams of sodium. Several other types of seafood aren't quite as high. You'll wind up with about 145 milligrams of sodium from 3 ounces of canned shrimp, six medium raw oysters weighing 3 ounces offer more than 175 milligrams and 3 ounces of canned clams have 95 milligrams of sodium.
How Much You Need
Keep your intake to less than 2,300 milligrams per day, the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010 states. Going way overboard increases your blood pressure, putting extra wear and tear on your heart. Later on in life you’ll have a higher chance of suffering from heart disease. If your blood pressure is already high, if you have diabetes or if you have a family history of heart problems, don’t have more than 1,500 milligrams of sodium daily.
What You Can Do
The first step to lowering your sodium intake is getting rid of as many foods as possible that come in a package. Avoid frozen dinners, canned foods, processed baked goods and crackers. If you must have these types of foods once in a while, make sure the brand you buy is labeled low-sodium. Ditch the salt shaker and use a fresh pepper grinder or dried spices instead. It may be difficult at first – give your palette time to adjust. Stick to the perimeter of the grocery store when shopping. Fruits, vegetables and fresh meats from the butcher do contain some sodium, but they don’t have nearly as much as processed foods. Lastly, anytime you’re preparing seafood, rinse it thoroughly under running water to remove some of the salt water. You won’t be able to get rid of all the sodium, but at least you’ll remove a little.
Melodie Anne Coffman specializes in overall wellness, with particular interests in women's health and personal defense. She holds a master's degree in food science and human nutrition and is a certified instructor through the NRA. Coffman is pursuing her personal trainer certification in 2015.