Tip – Salt and Sodium

It is difficult to avoid sodium these days. It’s in everything … and I do mean everything. Even a 12 oz. glass of club soda contains 3% of the recommended daily amount. Drink seltzer, spring water, or tap water instead. (There is sodium in my town’s tap water but the amount is negligible.

The problem for us is how much we rely on processed foods. Most canned goods have an enormous amount of added sodium and their labeling is intended to deceive. The way they lie is by using something called serving size.

Let’s use a famous brand of tomato soup as a standard. A quick glance at the label suggests that the can has 480mg of sodium in it. If you’re supposed to be on a diet that restricts your intake to 1000mg, that’s half your daily allowance right there. But wait! That 480mg is not per can but per serving and the company says that there are 2.5 servings for a standard-size soup can. So if you make a can of soup for lunch and you eat it all, that’s 1200mg and you will have already passed your daily limit.

Here’s a sample of other sodium amounts by the standard small can instead of by the serving:

  • Beef stew – 1460mg
  • Sweet corn – 700mg
  • Low Sodium Diced Tomato – 490mg
  • 1 package of Ramen – 1600mg
  • A packet of turkey gravy mix – 1480mg
  • A box of stove top stuffing – 2340mg

This means that the recipe that I published today, the Thankful Loaf, if made as directed and shared between four people (or four meals) starts at 585mg per portion. Gravy adds 370 per portion (I’ll let you work out the mashed potatoes for yourself) which means that one meal contains enough sodium to nearly reach the usual lower restricted dietary limit for the day (1000mg limit) or a third of the usual upper restricted limit (3000mg).

Unfortunately, since food banks depend on canned goods, mixes, and other processed food, those of us on a sodium restricted diet need to be vigilant about reading labels. We may not always be able to choose the healthiest option but, at the very least, we should be aware of the problem and pay attention to the labels.

I was talking to someone about this blog the other day. He said, “What a good idea. Of course you’re going to publish the nutritional values so people can stay healthy.” Well, no, I hadn’t intended to. My idea for starting this was just to give people ideas for making the foods available at the food bank more interesting. I guess I should. Luckily, I have only posted a few recipes so adding in the information should be fairly easy.

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