Sodium Overload – How to Lower Your Intake and Prevent Hypertension

 Where Sodium is Found

Even small traces of sodium are found in virtually everything we eat, so it’s impossible to avoid entirely. Most of the sodium we consume comes from processed foods and restaurant meals in the form of table salt and additives that contain sodium. Things like pizza, deli meat, bacon, cheese, soup, and fast food meals all contain an abundance of sodium and are some of the worst offenders. Food manufacturers put large amounts of sodium in processed foods to preserve them and increase the flavor.

Curious about how much sodium your favorite fast food meals contain?

  • McDonald’s Quarter Pounder With Cheese – 1100 mg
  • Taco Bell Bean Burrito – 922 mg
  • Wendy’s Baconator – 2200 mg
  • Wendy’s Junior Bacon Cheeseburger – 930 mg
  • Burger King Whopper With Cheese – 1410 mg
  • Subway 6″ Spicy Italian – 1520 mg

Pretty astounding, eh? Fast food is one of the worst things you can eat if you’re trying to watch your sodium intake.

As I mentioned previously, most foods naturally contain at least a little bit of sodium. Some foods containing naturally occurring sodium are milk, meat, and fish.

The last place you’ll find sodium is in the kitchen. In addition to the salt shaker, various condiments like soy sauce, ketchup, and mustard all have quite a bit of sodium. In fact, one tablespoon of soy sauce contains 1,000 mg — almost half of a healthy person’s daily allowance.

Lower Your Intake

When you’re diagnosed with high blood pressure, one of the first things the doctor will tell you to do is to lower your sodium intake. Those with high blood pressure should consume no more than 1500 mg a day. Here are a couple ways to do that…

  • Add flavor to meals with herbs and spices instead of the salt shaker. Flavors like garlic, oregano, basil, pepper, thyme, and sesame will add some taste to your meal without sending you into sodium overload.
  • Look for low-, no-, or reduced-sodium snacks and meals at the grocery store. Food manufacturers are allowed to be sneaky with their labeling, so here’s a quick cheat sheet for you…
    • “Sodium-free” – product contains less than 5 mg of sodium per serving
    • “Very low-sodium” – product contains 35 mg or less per serving
    • “Low-sodium” – product contains 140 mg or less per serving
    • “Reduced sodium” – product contains 25% less sodium than the standard version
    • “Light in sodium” product contains at least 50% less sodium than the standard version
    • “Unsalted” or “no salt added” – product does not contain any added sodium, but still contains naturally occurring sodium
  • Choose fresh or frozen fruits and veggies over canned. Canned products fall under the “processed foods” category and are often loaded with sodium to keep them preserved. Plus, fresh tastes better anyway 🙂
  • Remember that taste doesn’t necessarily tell you how much sodium something has. Foods that don’t necessarily taste salty can still contain large amounts of sodium.

If you can lower your sodium intake to a reasonable level, you can get your blood pressure lowered too. High sodium is one of the leading causes of hypertension. Take care of the initial problem, and you can prevent hypertension!

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About Amanda

Amanda is a former digital communications coordinator and frequent blogger for the TheHealthyTrucker.net, a website focused on truck driver health initiatives. Our mission is to encourage truck drivers to embrace a healthier lifestyle by providing both expert advice and real world experiences. Let us be your co-driver on the road to a healthier, happier life!