Category Archives: sodium

Salt satisfaction

Really nice write up on this common element that we all include in our daily diets.

Tony

Focus on food safety

salt2Sodium serves a vital purpose in the human body as it helps nerves and muscles to function correctly, and it is an important compound involved in maintaining fluid balance. Most of our dietary sodium intake is provided through the consumption of sodium chloride (common or table salt). About 80 per cent of this would come from processed foods and 20 per cent from salt used at the table or in home cooking. Table salt is made up of just under 40 per cent sodium by weight, so a 6 g serving (1 teaspoon) contains about 2,400 mg of sodium (note that some of the calculations below use the more exact 39 per cent of sodium).

Apart from table salt, it has been estimated that a further ten per cent of dietary sodium intake would be provided from naturally occurring sodium or sodium-containing food additives.

So far so good, but unfortunately high intakes of sodium can increase…

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Kicking the salt habit may not be enough – AHA

Most people are aware that they need to cut down on their salt (sodium) intake. That’s a good start. However, some ‘facts of life’ prove extremely helpful in the lower sodium quest, according to the American Heart Association (AHA). Spoiler alert: your table salt shaker isn’t the main culprit.

Salt

Highlights

  • Restaurant foods and commercially processed foods sold in stores accounted for about 70 percent of dietary sodium intake in a study in three U.S. regions.
  • Salt added at home during food preparation or at the table accounted for a small fraction of dietary sodium.
  • These findings confirm earlier recommendations from the Institute of Medicine to lower dietary sodium by decreasing the amount in commercially processed foods.

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TGI Friday’s Ribs and Shrimp – Bad Bet

There is a lot of talk about fast foods and processed foods being not as healthy for us. Here is a fine example of that from the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI).

An order of TGI Friday’s Jack Daniel’s Ribs & Shrimp with Seasoned Fries and Coleslaw has 4,000 milligrams (mg) of sodium—more than one-and-a-half times the daily sodium limit (2,300 mg a day) for healthy adults.

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A diner who eats that entrée along with half a high-sodium appetizer and half a high-sodium dessert could end up swallowing 6,450 mg, or almost three days’ worth, of sodium.  The nonprofit Center for the Science in the Public Interest is releasing the first of a series of “Salt Assaults” spotlighting the incredibly (and unnecessarily) high sodium content of many packaged and restaurant foods.

“Consumers can always add salt to their food but they can’t remove what’s already there,” said Jim O’Hara, CSPI’s director of health promotion policy.  “Food companies, especially chain restaurants, are irresponsibly increasing their customers’ risk of heart disease by selling foods that are dangerously high in sodium.  The Food and Drug Administration’s proposed voluntary sodium-reduction targets for packaged and restaurant foods, if finalized, would help put consumers back in control.”

The Ribs & Shrimp meal isn’t the only problem with TGI Fridays, according to CSPI—it’s the entire menu.  If diners choose a typical entrée, they end up with 2,240 mg of sodium.  Adding half a typical appetizer and half a typical dessert brings the total to 3,490 mg of sodium—more than one and a half days’ worth.  (CSPI’s analysis did not include TGI Friday’s 474 menu, which offers “smaller portions of our signature dishes.”)

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans says that many adults can consume up to 2,300 mg of sodium, but adults with prehypertension and hypertension (about two-thirds of all adults) would do well to limit their consumption to 1,500 mg per day.

Tony

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Filed under salt, sodium, sodium warnings in restaurants, TGI Friday's

What about those sports drinks?

There are a lot of seductive ads circulating these days encouraging folks who exercise to partake of them. However, I learned early on that there is a basic threshold for using sports drinks. And that is, how much are you exercising? If you are a weekend warrior and go to the health club mainly to socialize and walk on the treadmill or elliptical machine for a half hour while you watch one of the TVs or read, you likely don’t need to use a sports drink and you may be doing yourself some harm if you are.

Sports drinks contain sodium which your body needs to replenish if you have been exercising at least moderately heavily and working up a sweat. In that case, you can be using a sports drink to bring your body’s electrolytes back into balance.

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If you have been sweating a lot, getting sodium into your system is a good thing. But, if you haven’t, it isn’t necessarily.

Caitlin Howe, MS, MPH, of the American Heart Association Sodium Reduction Initiative says, “When it comes to winter physical activity, some people feel the need to consume energy and sports drinks during an afternoon walking in the cold air or skating on the lake. Sports drinks were initially designed for elite athletes, so most people can enjoy a winter workout without needing to replenish electrolytes or energy stores. Continue reading

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The Result of Eating Too Much Salt Can be Measured in Blood Pressure

More than 75 percent of sodium in the U.S. diet is found in the salt added to processed food. In the United States, about 9 of every 10 people consume too much sodium. The Salty Six foods – breads and rolls, cold cuts and cured meats, pizza, poultry, soup and sandwiches – are the leading sources of overall sodium in the U.S. diet.

Because of this it is really important to beware of eating processed food. Lots of folks cut down on their table salt, but that isn’t the real culprit in the sodium problem. They need to beware of the stealth sodium in the processed foods they eat.

Here are a few of the posts I have written on salt:

High Salt Diet Doubles Thread of Cardiovascular Disease in People with Diabetes

How Much Salt is Too Much Salt?

Some Sneaky Salt Statistics

Where Does All the Salt in our Diet Come From?

Tony

Cooking with Kathy Man

People who gradually increase the amount of salt in their diet and people who habitually eat a higher salt diet both face an increased risk of developing high blood pressure, according to a study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association.

In a Japanese study of more than 4,000 people who had normal blood pressure, almost 23 percent developed high blood pressure over a three year period. Those who ate the most salt were the most likely to have high blood pressure by the end of the study. Participants who gradually increased their sodium intake also showed gradually higher blood pressure.

The researchers estimated the amount of salt an individual was consuming by analyzing the amount of sodium in the urine of people who were visiting their healthcare provider for a routine check-up, and conducted follow-up urine analysis for approximately three years.

At the conclusion of the study…

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7 Myths on Sodium Consumption Busted – American Heart Association

The American Heart Association recommends we limit our sodium consumption to 1500 mg per day, but that doesn’t mean we have to eliminate salt from our diet. We just need to pay attention to how much we are consuming.

I thought there were some particularly useful ideas in this, particularly that 75 percent of the sodium we consume comes from processed foods.

ginormous

Tony

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What Are Six Sodium-boosting Popular Foods? – Infographic

The American Heart Association (AHA) says we keep our sodium intake below 1500 mg per day. If we eat a lot of these foods that is going to be a tough task.

Processed foods are big offenders in the sodium realm.

The AHA says:

Here are the approximate amounts of sodium, in milligrams, in a given amount of table salt:

  • 1/4 teaspoon salt = 575 mg sodium
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt = 1,150 mg sodium
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt = 1,725 mg sodium
  • 1 teaspoon salt = 2,300 mg sodium

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Sodium: How Much Is Too Much, and How Little Is Too Little?

The IOM report concluded that, while high levels of sodium intake definitely are related to risk of cardiovascular disease, there aren’t enough good data on health outcomes to determine what impact sodium intake below 2,300 mg per day has on the risk of heart disease, stroke, or other causes of death in the general US population.

To read further on sodium, check out Count Sodium as well as Calories at Fast Food Outlets, What Foods Hide High Sodium? How Much Sodium is in Protein Bar Lunches? Nutrition Myths Debunked – Myth 5 Adding salt to the pot adds sodium to the food.

Tony

 

Cooking with Kathy Man

Judith C. Thalheimer, RD, LDN wrote in Today’s Dietitian …..

It’s a fact: People who consume high levels of sodium tend to have higher blood pressure and increased risk of cardiovascular disease.1,2 But how much is too much? And how little is too little? The 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend the general population limit daily sodium intake to less than 2,300 mg, with high risk groups striving for no more than 1,500 mg.1 The American Heart Association (AHA) supports a 1,500 mg target for everyone.3 But a 2013 Institute of Medicine (IOM) report seemed to question parts of those recommendations, and data from new, high-powered studies published in the New England Journal of Medicine are feeding the controversy. Why is there so much confusion surrounding sodium recommendations? And what should dietitians and other health professionals be advising their clients and patients to do?

Americans and Salt

The average American…

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High-Salt Diet Doubles Threat of Cardiovascular Disease in People with Diabetes

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 29.1 million Americans have some form of diabetes. This population is at risk for heart disease. Between 2003 and 2006, cardiovascular disease death rates were about 1.7 times higher among adults diagnosed with diabetes than those who were not, according to the CDC’s 2014 National Diabetes Statistics Report.

To read further about the impact of salt on our bodies, check out: U.K. Salt Reduction Drives Down Stroke and Heart Disease Deaths, How Much is Too Much Salt? Is It Worth Cutting Salt and Boosting Potassium? Some Sneaky Salt Statistics, Where Does All the Salt in OUr Diet Come From? Count Sodium as Well as Calories at Fast Food Outlets.

Tony

Cooking with Kathy Man

People with Type 2 diabetes who eat a diet high in salt face twice the risk of developing cardiovascular disease as those who consume less sodium, according to a new study published in the Endocrine Society’s Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism (JCEM).

Diabetes occurs when there is too much sugar in the bloodstream. People develop Type 2 diabetes when their bodies become resistant to the hormone insulin, which carries sugar from the blood to cells.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 29.1 million Americans have some form of diabetes. This population is at risk for heart disease. Between 2003 and 2006, cardiovascular disease death rates were about 1.7 times higher among adults diagnosed with diabetes than those who were not, according to the CDC’s 2014 National Diabetes Statistics Report.

“The study’s findings provide clear scientific evidence supporting low-sodium diets to reduce the rate of…

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Count Sodium as well as Calories at Fast Food Outlets

Being aware of calorie consumption is a very useful tool in getting control of your weight. However, a recent study by the New York City Health Department made some interesting findings regarding sodium, according to MedPage Today.

High salt/sodium intake is a major contributor to cardiovascular disease. The American Heart Association recommends that adults stay under 1500 mg of sodium per day, and never take in more than 2,300 mg a day.

Branding-red-and-yellow-fastfood

 

The MedPage fast food study showed:

▪    About 57% of the meals exceeded the 1,500-mg daily sodium level.

▪    Fried chicken outlets including KFC and Popeye’s were the worst offenders, with 83% of meals exceeding 1500 mg of sodium and 55% of the meals surpassing 2,300 mg of sodium.

▪    At only one of the 11 chains included in the study, Au Bon Pain, did more than 7% of meals contain less than 600 mg, the FDA’s “healthy” sodium level for meals. But even there, 46% of meals had 1,500 mg or more of sodium.

▪    Even those eating lower calorie meals were likely to exceed their daily sodium limit within a single meal.

Because of the higher sodium content in fast food fare, it would seem logical to try and refrain from adding salt to your meal.

Tony

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U.K. Salt Reduction Drives Down Stroke and Heart Disease Deaths

The British government has successfully educated individuals about reducing their sodium consumption and has aggressively encouraged companies to market less-salty foods, the Center for Science in the Public Interest reported.

And according to the findings published in BMJ Open, those efforts are likely partly responsible for plummeting rates of heart attack and stroke deaths in the United Kingdom.

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It’s a shame that while the British government has actively prompted progress on the part of industry and consumers, our Food and Drug Administration dithers, waiting in vain for more than 40 years for companies to voluntarily cut salt.  It’s a strategy that has plainly failed, as Americans are still getting more than twice as much sodium as they should, mostly from processed and restaurant foods.

Almost four years ago the Institute of Medicine called on the FDA to set mandatory limits on the levels of sodium allowed in various categories of food.  Doing that would have been the single most effective (and inexpensive) thing the FDA could have done to save hundreds of thousands of lives and billions of health care dollars.  Halving Americans’ sodium intake could save 100,000 lives annually.  Because the Obama Administration hasn’t done anything, America is unnecessarily digging about 100,000 early graves every year, each to be filled with a heart attack or stroke victim.

I want to clarify that I am against government telling us we can’t have diet sodas over 16 ounces like in New York, but it seems the government can make some rules on healthy amounts of certain ingredients like salt and sugar which have proven harmful to us humans. As the CSPI release said, we are digging 100,000 early graves a year. Talk about Nero fiddling while Rome burns. We have the FDA fiddling while citizens who don’t pay attention to their health are dying at a terrible rate.

Salt consumption has been a subject of numerous posts in this blog. Here are a few:

How Much is Too Much Salt?

Some Sneaky Salt Statistics

Why is Walmart Cutting Sugar, Fat and Salt in its Foods?

Where Does All the Salt in our Diets Come From?

Tony

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Filed under aging, Center for Science in the Public Interest, heart, heart disease, heart problems, salt, sodium, stroke, Weight, weight control, weight loss

Are There Health Risks in Hot Yoga?

I got into yoga some years ago when I dated a woman who taught it. We went out for about two years and did yoga at least once a day. After we split up I still did yoga daily for several years.This was all before the current yoga craze. My experience of yoga was totally positive. I achieved excellent physical balance and learned through breath control to deal with stress. I can’t give you a good reason for stopping outside of mental and physical inertia.

I did not do hot yoga, nor even hear of it in that time. If you aren’t aware of it, hot yoga is done in a temperature of 105  Fahrenheit with humidity around 40 percent.

Those are hot conditions to do anything.

hot-yoga

Consumer Reports recently reported on woman who complained that it left her light-headed, fatigued and weak. “I was completely exhausted, just depleted,” Julianne Pepe said of her reactions after practicing hot yoga.

These sound suspiciously like the symptoms of heat exhaustion or heat stoke.

As a cyclist in all four seasons, I am very aware of these symptoms. Please check out my page – What to Do About Extreme Heat for more on the dangers of extreme heat.

I haven’t heard a lot of reports like this from folks doing hot yoga. I know there are good aspects of the heat, too. Studio owner, Rich Pike, told Consumer Reports, “Heat allows you to bend safely and be more flexible. What the sweating does is it eliminates toxins through your sweat.”

It is true that sweating releases toxins from the body. But, keep in mind sweat contains other chemicals including salt and potassium which are vital electrolytes. Doing an extended hot yoga session and getting dehydrated can be dangerous to your health.

As in all situations, you need to listen to what your body is telling you. If you are benefitting from the practice, you won’t be getting mixed signals like confusion, light-headedness, etc.

Tony

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What are the Best and Worst Super Bowl Snacks?

Okay, the Big Day has finally arrived. It’s Super Bowl Sunday. Yay! The Broncos and Seahawks square off late this afternoon for what many consider the grandest prize in all sports, the Lombardi Trophy. Unlike most other football games, we will all be staying on our couches and watching the numerous commercials that interrupt the action. And, while watching this afternoon we will be snacking, whether we are home, at a friend’s place for a party or out at a bar with a giant flatscreen. Therein lies the rub. I love watching the game and have struggled through the ups and downs of the past season to get here, but, like you, I love to snack while watching the game.

Boiled Edamame with a dusting of coarse salt.

Boiled Edamame with a dusting of coarse salt. Yum.

One of the best snacks that I will be munching on today, and I was surprised to learn that WebMD agrees with me, is Edamame, or soybeans in the pod. Costco sells them by the bag and it takes only five minutes to boil them up. Sushi places serve them with a dusting of giant salt crystals. You can match those by picking up some Coarse Kosher Salt at your supermarket. A four ounce serving of Edamame amounts to around 120 calories. There is also four grams of fat, no saturate fat or cholesterol, eight grams of sodium, 12 grams of carbohydrates, four grams of healthy vegetable fiber and 12 grams of body-building protein. The fact that the beans are still in the pod helps to make them a great finger food as you have to crack them out before you can eat the beans inside. For my money, this extra step adds to their appeal and it slows down my consumption to some extent.

On the negative side, one of the worst snacks according to WebMD, are Mozzarella Sticks. WebMD says, “There’s something about a stick of warm, gooey cheese that is irresistible — until you take a look at the nutritional facts. A typical order has 930 calories, 48 g of fat, and 2,640 mg of sodium. That puts mozzarella sticks pretty much on par with chicken wings.

For a slideshow of WebMD’s Best and Worst Appetizers click the link. The slideshow also gives the skinny on Onion Blossoms vs. Vegetable Kabobs, Spinach Artichoke Dip vs. Spinach Salad, Cheese Fries vs. Crab Cakes. Check out their entire spectrum at the link above to read them all.

Instead of beer or diet soda, do yourself a favor by drinking something healthy like coconut water or just plain ice water for something clean and healthy without any dangerous chemicals. Check out my Page – What’s wrong with Soft Drinks? also Snacking – the good, the bad, and the ugly for more on this topic.

Enjoy the game with a clean conscience.

Buon Appetito!

Tony

Are you pulling for the Broncos or Seahawks? I confess I am torn. As a long time NFL fan, I want to see Peyton Manning get his second ring. On the other hand on a personal basis, my former brother in law, Dan Quinn, who I have known since he was a teenager, is the mastermind of  the Seahawk’s defense, their defensive coordinator. I would love to see Dan get his first Super Bowl ring. 

Que sera, sera.

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How Healthy is Lobster Tail?

I love the taste of lobster tail, but since I live in the Midwest the cost of flying them in has always added to their already relatively high price to put them almost out of reach of my purse strings. My personal economics has not favored eating a lot of lobster tail except on birthdays, anniversaries, etc.  That is to say, once or twice a year. However, I recently got lucky and was gifted with some frozen lobster tails (thank you, Harrah’s Horseshoe Casino!). As I looked forward to preparing them I also wondered just how much food value lobster tails have.

Here is what I found out. The USDA puts the nutritional breakdown as follows: Serving size: four ounce tail (113.4 grams) Calories 105, Fat 1.1 grams no saturated or trans fats, Cholesterol none, Sodium 340 mg, Carbohydrates 1 gram and protein 22.7 grams. You need protein to build and repair tissues. The average man needs about 55 grams of protein a day so this small tail provides nearly half his daily protein requirement.

Going into the pot for steaming

Coming out of the pot from steaming

That’s the basics. Here are some further observations I picked up. Livestrong says, “Lobster tail is not only lower in fat and calories than pork, beef, and chicken, but it is rich in Omega-3 fatty acids. Adding Omega-3 fatty acid into one’s daily diet will lower your risk of heart disease.”

The DailyBurn noted, “High levels of Vitamins A, B2, B3, B6 and B12. There are also sources of potassium, zinc, iron, magnesium and amino acids. Lobster tail would be a good healthy addition to add to your next meal menu.” Continue reading

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How Many Calories in McDonald’s NEW Quarter Pounders?

Mickey D’s has just released some new variations on their theme of quarter pounders. I haven’t eaten any yet, but here is how they break out nutritionally according to the McDonald’s website:

Quarter Pounder with Cheese
Calories 520
Total Fat 26 grams
Saturated fat 12 grams
Trans fat 1.5 grams
Cholesterol 95 mg
Sodium 1100 mg
Carbohydrates 41 grams
Fiber 3 grams
Protein 30 grams

McD_NewQuarterPounders1
Bacon Habanero Ranch
Calories 610
Tot Fat 31 grams
Saturated fat 13 grams
Trans fat 1.5 grams
Cholesterol 105 mg
Sodium 1180 mg
Carbohydrates 46 grams
Fiber 3 grams
Protein 37 grams Continue reading

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How Good is the Costco Energy Blend Snack?

On a recent trip to Costco, I happened upon the Energy Blend snack. As I shop there regularly and have never seen this before, I have to believe it is new to Costco. Since I ride my bike as close to daily as is possible in a four season city like Chicago, i am always on the lookout for fresh and portable sources of energy to take with me on rides.
energyblend
The Energy Blend seems to fill the bill. It has a simple composition of edamame (soybeans) , cranberries, almonds and pumpkin seeds. In addition there are blueberry pomegranate juice and natural strawberry flavor. These are some very good sources of nutrition on their own so the combination looks promising.

At this point, I have only had a single serving of it which comes to 1/4 cup or 30 grams – about an ounce.

I enjoyed eating it. Very nice taste and texture.

The nutritional breakdown is as follows:
Calories 130
Total Fat 6 grams
Saturated fat 0.5 grams
No trans fat
No cholesterol
Sodium 65 mg
Total Carbohydrates 14 grams
Fiber 4 grams
Protein 7 grams

This seems a very good nutritional breakdown to me. There is fat for energy, not too many calories, enough sodium to restore salt sweated away, a good slug of fiber and protein. I think it is worth the try.

Let me know what you think.

If you aren’t a regular reader, here are some other recommendations on Costco items:

Roasted Seaweed

Coconut oil

Fruit and Nut treats

Organic Chocolate Love Crunch

Rotisserie chicken

Sunrise energy bars

Tony

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