February is the month to celebrate love and affairs of the heart. No surprise it is also American Heart Month. Messages about Go Red for Women are peppered everywhere and many businesses are helping to raise awareness about the dangers of heart disease while sharing ways to eliminate those dangers all together.
One of the things that you hear about as a culprit of heart disease is high sodium intake, but somehow, it has never quite clicked with me until now. I did not realize how much sodium was lurking in my own pantry and fridge until we began stocking and converting our shelves for the Engine 2 Diet. I consider myself a healthy eater, careful grocery shopper and avid label reader, yet this small crystalline seasoning is rampant in my home. It’s added to everything and in quantities that would make the American Heart Association recoil in terror.
For reference, the American Heart Association suggests that average healthy adults consume no more than 1500 mg of sodium per day. To put this number in perspective, one teaspoon of salt has 2300 mg of sodium. So, one teaspoon alone takes you soaring right past the recommended amount and that is assuming that none of your food has any sodium in it before you sprinkle it on generously from the shaker on your table (think naked plate of kale).
One of my favorite condiments on the planet is Open Pit BBQ sauce. I put it on everything I can find. Two tablespoons of this divine sauce has more than 500 mg of sodium and that’s before I count the Chick’n patty (350 mg) and whole what bun (190 mg) that I just put them on. Add 2 tablespoons of my fave bottled salad dressing (410 mg) on one of my biggie salads and in one meal, I’ve already met my recommended amount of sodium for the entire day.
It feels pretty sobering. In fact, it feels kind of scary. The reason that I even began to question my sodium consumption was from reading The Engine Two Diet. This book describes how a low sodium diet is critical to success in the transformation to a healthy life. Now that I am beginning to recognize this about my own eating habits, it is time to do something about it.
Sandy and I went to the store and read every label of every item that we put in our cart. I had no idea that so many cans of organic soup or ready made foods that I used were loaded with enough sodium to significantly increase my chance of heart disease, high blood pressure or stroke. I’ve always read labels, but didn’t pay much attention to sodium before, nor did I understand how much to consume in a day.
Sodium is hidden in so many of our foods that it feels almost deceptive. I want to choose foods that are low in or free from salt from the start. If I want to salt my fries or popcorn, that choice is up to me. It’s time to be purposeful about our eating and to continue to be conscious consumers. Now that I know to look for sodium, I will become a Salt Sleuth and make my purchasing decisions accordingly.
The more we learn the more beneficial and healthful our food choices can become and that is empowering. We deserve the best foods and abundant health. The choice is ours to enjoy.
Have a delicious day.
Sea salt photo courtesy of Healthfree.com
Tags: American Heart Association, compassionate eating, dairy free, Engine 2 Diet, going veg, heart healthy diet, low sodium diet, low sodium foods, low sodium for heart health, plant based diet, trying vegan, trying vegetarian, vegan, vegan challenge, vegan experience, vegan products, vegan wannabe