Ask anyone with chronic hypertension or another cardiovascular disease, and they will name sodium (salt) as their worst enemy. This is because dietary sodium that exceeds the recommended 2,300 mg a day increases blood volume and puts excess strain on the heart and blood vessels, leading to hypertension, heart disease, stroke, and heart failure.
However, unlike processed sugar that can be easily identified in nearly all of its food sources, sodium may sometimes be difficult to pinpoint. Here we look at some surprising foods that are secretly rich in sodium-and bad for your heart:
Croissants, tortilla wraps, bagels, every bread you can think of has about as much sodium as a salted potato chip; ranging from 200-700 mg per piece. However, since the sodium is baked into the bread instead of dusted on the surface, it can be difficult to tell by taste alone. Even the famous whole meal or brown bread contains 150 mg sodium per slice.
So, what can you do? Limit your whole meal slices to 1 or 2 a day, and avoid overeating breads in general.
Fatty fish like salmon and tuna are healthier alternatives to fatty beef and chicken, and highly coveted for their generous stores of omega-3 fatty acids. However, the best low-oil cooking method for seafood, i.e. smoking, requires the fish to be cured or marinated in salt to derive the best flavor; which elevates sodium content to 317 mg per slice.
But you do need those omega-3s, and smoking is the healthiest and tastiest way to prepare fish, so limit your smoked fish consumption to 3 slices a day.
3-Bottled Salad Dressing:
Squirting some thousand island or garlic mayo dressing from a bottle instead of making it yourself may be easier, but it also adds up to 300 mg of sodium to your meals for every 2 tablespoons used, along with the processed sugar and harmful preservatives. The sugar-free and fat-free varieties are no better, as they tend to compensate for the loss of flavor with extra sodium.
Opt for low-sodium or zero-salt versions if your favorite sauces and dressings are hard to give up, although they may taste bland to some. Using freshly squeezed lemon juice is a better alternative, as 1 tablespoon contains less than 1mg sodium; allowing you to add it heartily.
Despite its high calcium content, just 150g (1 cup) of feta cheese can contain 1,376mg of sodium. Other high-sodium dairy sources include cottage, halloumi, and processed cheese; with a sodium range of 300-400mg per ounce.
Ty low-sodium varieties of feta cheese, or swap with Swiss cheese (less than 60mg per ounce), fresh mozzarella (175mg per ounce), or plain yogurt (150mg per ounce).
Along with the high sugar content, excess sodium additives ranging between 400-700mg per cake may have you skipping on these sweet confections on your next bakery trip. This is because manufactures add sodium to increase the product’s shelf life. Boxed cake and pancake mixes are also similar in terms of sodium content.
If sweet tooth satisfaction is your goal, choose to make your own desserts at home.
You may be avoiding the trans-fats and additives of a standard chicken patty by opting for a veggie burger, but you might just be swapping it for an extra 400-500mg of sodium. Moreover, store-bought chicken Ceasar salads dripping with dressings may reduce the calorie count, but they often compensate for it with a high sodium content of 850mg.
Keep the veggie burgers to a minimum, and opt for salads with minimal dressing on the side or none at all. The best alternatives though, are home-made salads using fresh ingredients.
7-Certain Chicken Breasts:
Processed luncheon meats, sausages, and cold cuts are well-known high sodium and cardiovascular damage contributors (192-669mg per slice). However, certain chicken breasts, particularly frozen ones, are often injected with sodium solutions to retain their juicy freshness.
Learn to read labels. Avoid chicken and other frozen meats with salt listed in the ingredients.
While some foods are best avoided, others, like smoked fish and feta cheese are highly essential to our daily diets due to their additional nutritional benefits. Always consult with your doctor before making any drastic dietary changes to ensure that your daily requirements are being met.
You can also book an appointment with a top Nutritionist in Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad through oladoc.com, or call our helpline at 042-3890-0939 for assistance to find the RIGHT Doctor for your dietary concerns.
About the Writer:
Yashfa Marrium is a freelance writer and health enthusiast. You can reach her at [email protected]