Today we're going to talk about controlling high blood pressure and 10 high sodium foods to avoid. Now, when I ask most of my patients if they have a high salt diet, they usually say, "No, I hardly ever add salt to my food." But what most people don't know is that most of the salt that we eat comes from pre-packaged foods and from restaurants. So you literally can have a high salt diet even if you never even pick up a salt shaker. Now we know that high blood pressure is a leading cause of heart disease, strokes, and other diseases, and a high sodium diet is a high-risk factor for having hypertension.
Sodium Recommendations By Organization
High blood pressure is indeed a leading cause of heart disease and strokes. It is also the second most common cause of kidney failure. Yes, for many people who are on dialysis, it's all because of high blood pressure. And we absolutely know that having a high sodium diet, or a high salt diet is a leading risk factor for hypertension. So what does that mean?
Hypertension in many ways is preventable. So we are going to talk about high sodium, but in order to know what in the world is high sodium, you first need to know the recommendations. The daily recommendation for how much salt you should intake varies from organization to organization, but all organizations agree that, at very least, you should be taking in less than 2,300 milligrams of sodium, or less than 2.3 grams of sodium per day.
I will break it down by the organization. The World Health Organization recommends less than 2,000 milligrams of sodium per day. The American Heart Association is actually a little more strict. They recommend less than 1,500 milligrams of sodium a day for adults to take in. And then you have the USDA, the United States Dietary Association. And according to the USDA guidelines, you should be having 2.3 grams of sodium or less, so less than 2,300 milligrams of sodium a day.
The recommendations are more specific for patients with kidney disease, KDIGO, Kidney Disease Improving Global Outcomes, the recommendation is that patients with chronic kidney disease, CKD, who are not on dialysis, the recommendation is 2,000 milligrams of sodium or less. You should be having less than 2,000 milligrams of sodium per day. So that's just to give an overview.
Benefits of a Low Sodium Diet
Let's discuss the importance, and the benefits, of having a low sodium diet. Studies have shown that if you have a low sodium diet, and you are a hypertensive patient, the low salt diet can help to lower your blood pressure. And even if you are a normal tensive patient, or if you don't have high blood pressure, a low sodium diet can lower your blood pressure.
And we find that the low salt diet is most effective in certain groups. Studies have shown that a low salt diet is most effective in lowering the blood pressure of blacks and of patients who are middle-aged or older patients. And another thing, having a low salt diet can actually make your body more responsive to blood pressure medicines.
Also if you have a low salt diet, and you take your blood pressure medicines, it will really improve the effects. So there are all kinds of advantages to having a low salt diet.
High Sodium Foods to Avoid
So let's talk about salt, just good old-fashioned, regular table salt. How much sodium does it have? Well, in 1/4 of a teaspoon of table salt, there are 590 milligrams of sodium. That's 1/4 of a teaspoon. So, in a full teaspoon, a tiny little teaspoon of table salt, you have 2,360 milligrams of sodium. And so according to the USDA recommendations, in just one teaspoon of table salt, you've already exceeded your daily recommendation.
So then you might be saying, well, you know what, I don't use regular salt. I use sea salt. Well, guess what? Sea salt still has sodium in it. In 1/4 of a teaspoon of sea salt, sea salt, there are 530 milligrams of sodium. So then in a full teaspoon, there are 2,120 milligrams of sodium, which, again, already exceeds the daily recommendation. So this should start to give you an idea of how much salt you might be taking in even if you don't add a whole lot of salt to your food.
Pink Himalayan Salt
I know a lot of folks will say, "Oh no, no, "I don't use real salt. "I cook with Himalayan salt." Guess what? Now, even though some of these specialized salts will have certain minerals that can be pretty healthy for you or can help your body, they still have sodium. In 1/4 of a teaspoon of pink Himalayan salt, you have 560 milligrams of sodium. So what does that mean? In one full teaspoon of pink Himalayan salt, you have 2,240 milligrams of sodium.
Bottom line, for any type of salt, whether it's table salt, sea salt, or pink Himalayan, salt, if you do one full teaspoon, you've already exceeded your daily recommendation of sodium, which can increase your chances of having hypertension.
2. Pre-Packaged Vegan or Plant-based Foods
All right, so now let's talk about some food items. I know that a lot of people like to be healthy and do a lot of vegetarian and vegan or plant-based diets, which is absolutely wonderful. It's excellent, but I still want you to beware that a lot of the prepackaged vegan or plant-based foods are still high in sodium.
Let's just say you decide that you want to be healthy and do a plant-based vegan sausage for breakfast. If you do three plant-based vegan sausage links, that is 390 milligrams of sodium. And you know a lot of you eat more than three for breakfast. So just be careful and make sure you're looking at the packages.
Vegan Chicken Nuggets
If you want your kids to stop running out and eating all this fast food and all these chicken nuggets, you might say, "you know what, kids, you're going to do vegan chicken nuggets, plant-based nuggets." Well, guess what? If you give them four plant-based nuggets, that's 370 milligrams of sodium. So just four of these vegan nuggets of chicken, plant-based chicken nuggets, have 370 milligrams of sodium. You need to be careful and keep watching your labels.
3. Low-Calorie Frozen Meals
Now let's talk about some of the lean or lighter TV dinners. You might decide that you want to have a low-calorie meal. And so you have something you want to throw in the microwave that's not gonna be too many calories. So let's take spaghetti as an example. This is something that is packaged as a low-calorie meal, something that will help you to maintain your weight, or help you to lose weight. And it's only 310 calories for this serving, not bad.
But guess how much sodium is in it? 750 milligrams of sodium! So, again, even when you're making healthy choices, and you're trying to do vegan things, or you're trying to do low-calorie meals, remember there's still sodium. So just make sure you watch your labels.
Ketchup. who doesn't love ketchup? I know I love ketchup. You put ketchup on some of everything, your French fries. You put it on your burgers or chicken sandwiches. Well, I don't put it on my chicken sandwiches, but, bottom line, people put ketchup on a lot of things. You don't even really pay attention. You just squirt the ketchup and you don't worry about it. Well, guess what? One tablespoon of ketchup has 197 milligrams of sodium. And a lot of you do not count how many tablespoons you're squirting. So again, beware. These are some high sodium foods that you may want to avoid.
Now, we don't live life in a black and white situation where everything is all or none or in a vacuum. So when I say avoid, I mean, just make sure you have your moderation, and you avoid excessively eating high sodium foods.
5. Pre-Packaged Deli Turkey and Meats
All right, let's keep going. Ooh, I'm having fun. Let's look at turkey. A lot of people will have turkey on their salad, or they'll have a turkey sandwich, and that will be your choice for something healthy. But you have to remember that when you are dealing with pre-packaged turkey, a lot of times these deli meats are high in sodium. So a serving of deli turkey, and by this, remember, I mean something that is pre-packaged and sealed, but a serving is considered to be two ounces.
And in two ounces of turkey, you have 510 milligrams of sodium. And you know y'all like to pack your sandwiches, so a lot of you might have four ounces or six ounces. So if you have two ounces of 510 milligrams of sodium, we're already talking about 1,020 milligrams. And if you are really feeling hungry, or you go back to give yourself a couple of snacks and a couple of sandwiches, and then you have eight ounces of turkey, now we are up to 2,040 milligrams of sodium.
The point is, make sure you keep watching the labels, because even something that may seem like a pretty healthy choice, deli turkey if it's pre-packaged turkey, it could be a high sodium item that you want to avoid.
6. Bread and Dinner Rolls
You know you love bread. And bread is not something you really think of as being super high in sodium, is it? If you like those little rolls, then two of these rolls will be 160 milligrams of sodium. And then how about bread? If you have two slices of bread, now you're talking 180 milligrams of sodium. And a lot of us like to go back and get another sandwich. So you just have to keep multiplying. Again, make sure you look at the labels, and when you're eating bread, just calculate it and know how much sodium is in it.
7. TV Dinners
Ooh, I almost don't want to talk about this dinner, but you know that a lot of times for convenience, especially if you have kids or a lot of hungry people in your home, you might want to take the route of things that are a little less expensive and buy TV dinners. And you think, ah, we'll just throw a TV dinner in the oven or microwave, and it's not that big of a deal.
Well, let me tell you right now, these TV dinners, these frozen, pre-packaged TV dinners are absolutely loaded with sodium! Now, here we have a TV dinner. We have our beef, mashed potatoes, and green beans. Well, that's healthy, right? We have green beans. And let's not forget the chocolate dessert. The portion is not huge, but it's quite filling. So you might grab this and throw this in the microwave and give it to your kid. And you're just like, "Ugh, just eat this honey." It has vegetables. "We're fine." But guess how much sodium is in here? 1,630 milligrams of sodium! And this is just one meal. So if you pick up these TV dinners, please look at the labels.
8. Canned Vegetables
So you might say, I'm going to have a day with no meat, or I'm going to have a low meat diet, which, in general, is a good idea. And you may decide you're just going to have a bowl of corn for your dinner. That sounds healthy, right? I mean, who doesn't love corn, especially when it's sweet and creamed? Well, guess what? If you take this bowl of corn, which is just one can of corn, let me tell you, you will look at the label and it will tell you for one serving, it's 340 milligrams of sodium.
Okay, but then you have to see what they mean when they say serving. And what they say is one serving is 1/2 of a cup. And it's like, okay, a 1/2 a cup. Well, in this particular can of sweet creamed corn, there were 3.5 servings in a can. And do you really think that one can of corn will serve 3.5 people?
At any rate, 3.5 servings. So now, let's take the 340 milligrams for a serving, and if you eat the whole can and put it in the bowl, which you likely will, then you multiply the 340 milligrams times 3.5, and in this one bowl of a vegetable, you now have 1,190 milligrams of sodium! That's a high sodium food you might want to avoid.
9. Instant Noodles
Let's talk about instant noodles. I'm talking about these pre-packaged noodles that you buy. You put water in them, and then you can season them. And they're really just, so delicious! So if you look at the package, it will tell you that one serving has 760 milligrams of sodium. But, again, remember, what do they mean by serving? They mean a 1/2 a package. And you know good and well that you use a whole package when you make these noodles. So then a whole package of these types of noodles has 1,520 milligrams of sodium! So you're already over halfway there at hitting the daily recommendation of sodium. So make sure that you watch the labels.
10. Fried Chicken
Just one fried chicken breast with the skin on has 1,360 milligrams of sodium, and you know good and well a lot of times you have more than one piece of chicken. And so if you have two pieces of chicken that are fried breast with skin on, then you're talking 2,720 milligrams of sodium! And you know you have gone far over the daily recommendation of sodium. So now we've gone through 10 foods you may want to avoid.
I threw this in here just for fun. Diet soda, a lot of people think that if they have a diet cola, they're really doing great things. Well, understand that if you have 24 ounces of even a diet cola, it is 80 milligrams of sodium. And a lot of folks will sit there and just drink diet sodas all day like water because it's zero calories. You think you're doing all good. Just beware of the salt.
So there you have it, 10 high sodium foods to avoid in order to control high blood pressure. Remember that high sodium diets can lead to hypertension, which is a leading cause of heart disease, strokes, and kidney failure. If you found this article to be helpful and informative, please be sure to share it with the people you care about. Also, if you have not done so already, make sure that you subscribe to my YouTube channel and that you tap that notification button, so you'll be among the first to know when I release new medical content. Also, make sure you follow me on Instagram @dr.frita. That way, you'll find out what I'm up to in my own everyday life as I try to live my healthiest, happiest life.