The over-abundance of sodium (salt) in prepared foods today can have a very detrimental effect on our bodies, causing unwelcome water retention, bloating and “water weight”. More importantly, too much sodium can also increase the chance of kidney disease and kidney stones, affect high blood pressure, and lead to heart attacks.
While the body does need salt, we definitely do not need it in the quantities we will have absorbed by the end of the day, eating even a ‘normal’ diet. According to The American Heart Association, on average, American adults eat more than 3,400 milligrams of sodium per day – easy to do as even fresh foods naturally contain some sodium and the numbers can quickly add up.
The recommended daily intake is a maximum of 1,500 milligrams.
Grabbing a quick hamburger for lunch (based on a fast-food hamburger’s sodium content) will give you approximately 1000mg or 67% of the suggested daily intake! Sodium counts are: 1 hamburger patty (378mg ), with 1 tablespoon each of ketchup (167mg), mayo (105mg) and mustard (168mg) together with the bun (206mg). 1 Slice of cheese would add about 350mg. And then with pickles, add another 85mg for each slice of pickle! Lunch alone could easily take you to, or over, the recommended daily limit!
I have had high blood pressure for years and thought I was doing pretty well in watching my salt intake by, on and off, cutting out the chips and dip and pretzels. Then we had a wake-up call; my super-fit husband, who was not watching his salt intake, had a heart attack! We were told that the lower we kept our salt intake the better and right there our sauce-heavy, sodium-taste-enhanced eating went out the window. It took a while to get our taste buds used to the natural flavors of the food but it was well worth it. A store-bought tomato tastes like nothing without salt, but a home-grown or organic, vine-ripened tomato tastes just wonderful with no need for salt!
Condiments were another part of the puzzle. So, it was goodbye to even my favorite flavor-aids like “Less Sodium” Soy Sauce (570mg sodium in 1 tablespoon). Into the trash also went my Teriyaki Sauce (610mg sodium in 1 tablespoon) and my healthy Liquid Aminos (320mg sodium per teaspoon)! I like using different mustards, but even the mustards in my local stores contain sodium so these had to go too. How could we get through summer without mayo in our potato salad? Most mayo contains about 100mg sodium per tablespoon (up to about 120mg for fat-free mayo).
Stores are stocking more gluten-free options today, which is great, but salt-free products, sauces and condiments are all but impossible to find. I did find a ketchup with no added salt but didn’t care for the flavor. I eventually come across healthyheartmarket.com and was really happy to find the salt-free Mr. Spice Garlic Steak Sauce. This is great as a sauce but also a great addition to ground beef recipes. They also stock sodium free baking powder – yes, regular baking powder contains sodium!
Finally, I then decided to try making my own condiments, with great success according to my family! See my ‘Great Mustard and Excellent Mayo’ recipes for really easy, great tasting, options! You do NOT have to give up tasty, even spicy, food!