I am a ‘recreational’ sodium watcher. I really like salt. I have always salted my food liberally. After it was pointed out in the book ‘The end of overeating’ I realized that I even liked the saltiness in chocolate chip cookies. But since I started watching what I was eating, learning to like low-fat high-fiber foods, I have tried to salt foods less. As I tell my friends, eventually ‘they’ will take that away from me too. Meaning, eventually a doctor will look at my health profiles and tell me to limit my sodium intake.
So I always try a food now before salting it. I add less salt when I am cooking. I occasionally will eat a whole dish without adding salt, and try to enjoy the other natural flavors that are in it. Its not so bad.
And occasionally, I will even look at the sodium levels in the stats on food packaging.
I always feel guilty pleasure when I am eating my low sodium sunflower seeds. Because they are still really salty. And I enjoy sucking the salt off the seeds. So I checked the package, and realized that my single serving (1 ounce in the shells, 100 calories) has 37 mg of sodium. Not being an expert, that didn’t mean much to me. But it seemed pretty low. So I started looking at the sodium levels in the next few foods I ate.
One evening I had some canned beets. I KNOW. Canned foods are notoriously high in sodium. And I seldom eat them any more. But canned beets used to be one of my most favorite foods, and I didn’t feel like cooking that night. And let me also add that canned beets are one of those foods that seem like they need a LOT of salt added to be enjoyable. So imagine my surprise when I looked at the can and saw that in one serving (and I probably eat 2 servings at a time) there were only 35 calories, but 290 mg of sodium! The next food I checked was Costco’s frozen yogurt. I was going to Costco, and decided ahead of time that I would get a frozen yogurt as a treat so I checked the calories online. 350 calories. But what? 290 calories of sodium? REALLY? Is that necessary? Not a hint of saltiness as far as I could tell.
So yesterday, just for the fun of it, I checked CalorieKing for the sodium content of a couple more foods. Of course, I had to check chocolate chip cookies. I chose the Starbucks choc chip cookie, because I know what size it is (haven’t tasted one…yet) 350 calories and 300 mg sodium. 2% milk, at 130 calories/cup has 100 mg sodium. And finally, Chili’s chocolate chip cookie molten cake has 1240 calories and 680 mg sodium (I guess if you fasted all day it would be okay to eat this? JUST KIDDING!)
So, in conclusion, the saltiest tasting food on this list is my sunflower seeds. If you accept that your daily total sodium intake should be 1500 (lowest recommended level) then my sunflower seeds are about 2% of my sodium intake for the day. Guess I can enjoy them without the guilt!
p.s. Here is a good article about sodium intake from the Mayo Clinic. It points out that the VAST MAJORITY of most people’s diets comes from processed and packaged foods. Another good reason to ‘eat clean.’