Sodium, Processed Foods & Disease

Sodium is an electrolyte required for vital processes within the body such as transmitting nerve signals, helping muscles contract, regulating blood and water volume that's in and around our cells. However, your body needs only small amounts of sodium to maintain a healthy fluid balance and too much sodium can force your heart and kidneys to work harder raising your blood pressure leading to heart disease, stroke, kidney disease and cause inflammation leading to autoimmune disorders.

As per National Health and Medical Research Council Australia, recommended daily sodium intake should be between 460mg and 920mg or 1/4 of a teaspoon. American Heart Association calls for sodium to be limited to 1,500 milligrams or less per day but according to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control), the daily sodium intake of an average American is about 3,300 mg and a large number commonly exceeding even double that mark. In primitive Paleolithic diets, sodium consumption has been theorized to be approximately 750 mg which is ideal as per healthy guide lines mentioned above and it is very important to note that these societies did not have refined/processed salts or processed foods to their menu and all of their required sodium came naturally from their natural whole food diets. It is a matter of extreme concern that modern humans consume way too much sodium than what is required and more than 80 percent of it comes from processed foods.

As a thumb rule - all fast, quick and processed foods contain high sodium as salt is widely used as an agent to dry and preserve foods. Below are some approximate figures which may vary slightly from label to label.

Condiments
Ketchup (1 tablespoon) - 167 milligrams
Sweet relish (1 tablespoon) - 122 milligrams
Teriyaki sauce (1 tablespoon) - 700 milligrams
Soy sauce (1 tablespoon) - 1,000 milligrams

Snacks
Potato chips - 150 milligrams per ounce
Cheese puffs - 200 milligrams per ounce
Pretzels - 350 milligrams per ounce

Soup & Gravy
Canned cream-style corn - 700 milligrams per cup
Chicken noodle soup (canned) - 750 milligrams per cup
A 5-ounce frozen turkey and gravy dinner - 750 milligrams
5 gram bouillon cube - 1200 milligrams
Instant Cup noodles - 1200 milligrams per serving

Processed Meats and Vegetables
2 Slices of cured/processed meats - 350 milligrams or more
Pasta or Pizza sauce - 550 milligrams per 1/2 cup
Canned jalapeno/olives  - 550 milligrams per 1/4 cup
Sun dried tomatoes - 1000 milligrams per 50 grams

Milk products
Most Cheeses - 1800 milligrams per 100 grams
Chocolate Milk - 250mg per cup

Cereals
Almost all brands - 250-350 milligrams per cup

And the list goes on from sweet biscuits to breads, salad dressings to sauces, dips to mustard. The point here is that a low sodium diet should be an important part of maintaining a healthy body to avoid disease by avoiding fast, quick and processed foods from one's diet, if not eliminating them - all together.