Can you live without salt? Have you tried having a barbecue without a marinade or barbecue sauce? How about a Caesar salad without the dressing? Cooking or eating food without even the slightest pinch of salt is, admit it, close to impossible. Salt, or sodium chloride, is one of the condiments that a kitchen can never run out of. In fact, sodium is present in more ways than one.
Sodium is metal, like copper and aluminum. But it's one of the components of table salt. Table salt is composed of forty percent sodium and sixty percent chloride. A teaspoon of salt is 5grams, which means it contains about 2,000mg of sodium. Unprocessed food like fish, meat, poultry and cheese all have sodium. Processed meat like bacon, corned beef, sausage, hotdogs and cold cuts already have sodium, yet some of us still love to add condiments like catsup, mayonnaise, mustard, hot sauce or soy sauce for a better taste.
Can't get enough sodium in your food? An adult should only consume 1,500 mg to 2,400 mg of sodium a day, the lesser the better. If sodium level is low, the kidneys conserve it. Otherwise, the excess amount is excreted through urination. Too much sodium can lead to high blood pressure and fluid retention.
So, how much sodium is present in your favorite food? Here is a list of food, which are common favorites, with their corresponding approximated sodium contents:
- Cheeseburger. A single patty has 616 mg. McDonald's cheeseburger has 830 mg per serving, while Burger King's ranges from 750 mg to 1,170 mg.
- Potato Chips. Plain, unsalted chips have a very minimal content of 2 mg, light potato chips have 121 mg while reduced-fat chips have 139 mg. Once flavored, sodium content jumps to 204 mg for sour cream and onion, with barbecue being the highest having 213 mg.
- Pizza. Two slices of Domino's Italian Sausage Pizza alone gives you enough sodium for the day with 1,515 mg. The lowest is 1,215 mg for Cheddar Cheese flavor. Other pizza companies can give as high as 2,535 mg for the All Meaty Pizza.
- Fish. Yes, fish is healthy, depending on how you eat it and how it was preserved. Fresh fish has about 40 mg of sodium. Since microorganisms cannot live in a salty environment, fish were canned for preservation. Once canned, sodium content rockets to 300+mg.
- Turkey. Fresh turkey (3oz), when roasted, its sodium content ranges from 54 mg to 120 mg. On the other hand, frozen turkey with gravy (5oz) contains a whopping 787 mg of sodium.
- Chocolate. Just because they are sweet, doesn't mean they don't have sodium in them. While a bar of 1.5 oz Kitkat contains 27 mg, a bar of snickers weighing 2 oz, contains 152 mg. If your diet is being monitored for sodium, you can still satisfy that sweet tooth of yours. You can still consume an 8.4 g dark chocolate, which has 1 mg of sodium, or 10 pieces of M&M's plain because of its 4 mg sodium content.
- Donuts. Honey glazed yeast donut has 44 mg of sodium content, while cake type and jelly filled donuts contain 200+mg of sodium.
Nowadays, table salt is not 100% sodium chloride. Magnesium carbonate was added to salt to prevent it from sticking together during wet season. Iodine was added in salt to avoid goiter, in the form of sodium iodide or potassium iodide.
Anything in excess is bad for the health. Since sodium is present in everything you eat, the daily requirement can easily be met. If you can't eliminate salt in your diet, consider cutting it down to the minimum or try other salt-free spices instead.