Sodium is Not Salty

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.’


7 thoughts on “Sodium is Not Salty

  1. I rinse canned beans to get rid of some of the sodium, but I probably should be buying low sodium to begin with. I do love my salt – um, I even salt and pepper my salads! “They” might take it away from me eventually, but until then I aim to enjoy it!

  2. The only canned foods I buy are pumpkin (no sodium), beans (loaded), and tomatoes (I buy the salt free ones). If you eat mostly unprocessed foods, you don’t need to worry too much about sodium intake from the few items you do eat.

    It’s scary when I think about how I lived on Lean Cuisines and Smart Ones – loaded with sodium! I was a processed food junkie.

  3. I think the estimate is that most americans are ingesting about 8000mg daily.

    I always assume that the biggest loser people playing the game where they want a low to no loss weight week probably use sodium. It would be very effective.

    the people that I always feel sorry for (in weight loss blogland) are the people that ARE trying (hard) to loose weight and ingest more than 1500-2000mg per day. Because they aren’t going to loose weight that way – their bodies will hold on tight.

  4. I am here to say that even though I eat mostly clean foods – I still have to watch my sodium intake in the few ‘processed’ foods that I eat. It is amazing how quickly it adds up during the day.

    And cook dried beans in the crock pot – they then freeze perfectly and are readily available.

  5. I try not to cook with salt, just add it to taste afterwards. Because tend to one even after i put salt in cooking it we would still add more to our plate and that would be a double whammy. My way of thinking anyway…..

  6. I am going to assume that you are eating David brand sunflower seeds. I make this assumption because that is the only brand I know that produces a lower sodium sunflower seed product. I actually have some pretty bad news for you. For some reason, David brand has been able to get away with just listing the nutritional information of the kernel. They are not reporting the sodium that is all over the shell, and that we all suck off with glee. Sometimes, so much so that our mouths get sore from the practice. None of that salt is being reported on the outside of the bag. Now, if you compare the labels of other sunflower seed brands with David brand, you will see that other companies list their sodium MUCH higher than David does….even though, if you ask me, David’s tastes a lot saltier than theirs. This is because the other companies are telling the truth! Companies like Frito-Lays, who makes some really awesome tasting seeds lists two lines of nutritional info. First of all, they list a serving size as one ounce.The first column shows “just the kernel” numbers, so assume the shell never makes it inside your mouth. That column shows a very modest 90 mg per ounce. The second column tells the real tale of the tape because we ALL KNOW that we are sucking that salt off….at a whopping 2100 mg of sodium PER OUNCE!!! Meanwhile, to compare apples to apples, the full salt version of David’s seeds bag says something like 135 for a serving size of a bit over two ounces (because the bag is 5.25 ounces and they say a bag has 2,5 servings). Now…just to prove my point, Giants brand sunflower seeds, whose bag is 5 oz and lists a serving size of 30 grams (2.5 servings per bag) lists their sodium at 75 mg per serving…..but they tell you right on the bag that they are only providing information about the kernel! So all in all, David brand is, by omission, lying to the consumer. If you are eating half a bag, you are consuming at least 1500 mg of sodium in those lower sodium seeds, and that is a very conservative estimate.

    I have recently been diagnosed as hypertensive and I am also a sunflower seed addict. What I di to be able to enjoy my seeds is to put them in a colander, rinse off all the salt, dry them with a paper towel, spread them on a cookie sheet and put them in a warm oven just to dry them. I let them sit a bit so they are room temperature again and they taste wonderful. The kernel still has just enough sodium to taste good. It takes a bit of effort, but this way, I am closer to the 135 mg of sodium than the 4200 mg that my calculator tells me is what used to be there before I rinsed them.

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