New Britain City Journal

New Britain's Weekly Online Newspaper


Too Much Sodium Can Result in Heart Problems

In America, the average person consumes about 3 pounds or more of this each year. According to the heart foundation about 75 percent of this nutrient comes from processed foods. The American Heart Association recommends that you eat less than 1,500mg of this nutrient per day, which is about ½ teaspoon. Can you guess what is it? It’s sodium. Sodium is also known as salt, table salt, common salt and sodium chloride.

Sodium is needed for your body to function properly, but too much sodium can result in heart problems. If you eat a lot of sodium, your body tends to hold in extra water to keep you from dehydrating. In addition, your blood vessels start to get thicker; which makes the inside of the blood vessel small. As a result, you have a lot of blood pushing against the wall of your blood vessels raising the pressure inside your arteries giving you what is called high blood pressure. When you have high blood pressure you are at risk for heart attack, kidney disease and stroke. According to, more than 50 million Americans, 1 in 4, have high blood pressure and 1 in 3 African Americans over the age of 18 have high blood pressure. Although African Americans are at higher risk, everyone needs to be careful of how much sodium they put into their bodies because all Americans have 90 percent chance of eventually developing high blood pressure.

Not all foods high in sodium taste salty. Sodium is everywhere, including foods that don’t taste salty. Examples of this are baked foods. These types of foods are usually very sweet and do not taste salty but adding baking soda or baking powder to the ingredients increases the sodium content. A spoonful of salt contains much more than the amount of salt you need every day. Half a teaspoon of salt a day is the actual recommendation. Food labels that have “reduced” or “less salt” written on them are still questionable. Even though sodium may be reduced, it may still be more than the recommended daily value. You should always check your food labels. If a labels states “reduced” or “less sodium” on it then it has at least 25 percent less sodium than the regular product. This can still be high depending on how high the amount of salt was in the original product before they reduced it. If it says ‘low sodium’ this product has 140 milligrams or less of sodium. ‘Very low sodium’ has about 35 milligrams or less of sodium. Sodium free or no sodium products have Less than 5 milligrams of sodium or no sodium.

When reading a food label, note the amount of sodium in each serving. Keep track of your daily intake to be sure you don’t exceed the recommended amounts. Another way to read food labels is to check where’sodium” appears in the list of ingredients. If it is the first ingredient on that list, then it is an abundant ingredient in your food item.

It can be difficult to decrease your sodium intake, but it is not impossible. Here are some tips for reducing sodium in your diet. You should choose food items without added salt. You can also try to get rid of or lessen the amount of salty snacks. Another thing that can help lower your salt intake is selecting unsalted soups or broths. Use spices and herbs to improve taste of food instead of salt. Adding lemon juice to fish and veggies is also a good way to decrease sodium in your meals. Try not to add canned vegetables to homemade foods because they usually have a high salt concentration. Instead of canned vegetables you can buy frozen vegetables. Another option is to use 3-hole shakers instead of 4-hole shakers to put your salt in. You can also keep a journal and write down all the foods you eat and the amount of salt in each item. Make cutting salt a family activity so that everyone benefits. Support from friends and family is important. You don’t have to do it alone.



  1. A hidden source of sodium is packaged chicken! I was shocked to see a high sodium content in raw, packaged whole chicken and chicken pieces, thighs and boneless breasts for example. I knew that pork was “pumped up” with some salt solution, but didn’t know about chicken. I am NOT talking about raw MARINATED meats, just plain old chicken & pork. Keep an eye out for this, you’d be surprised at the sodium level. Also, if you buy the boneless breasts, for example, and then marinate it in an off-the-shelf product already high in sodium, it will be nearly inedible! Flip those yellow styrofoam packages over for the nutrition label. Some dairy products, like cottage cheese, have a surprisingly high sodium level, too. This is especially important if you do the shopping or cooking for an elderly person- just be aware.

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