If you had to guess which had more salt a serving of low fat cottage cheese or a handful of potato chips most of us would probably guess the chips when in fact, .the cottage cheese has 3 times the amount of sodium as the salty-tasting chips. A new study published earlier this year suggests we need to slash our salt intake by 3 grams per day. The biggest problem is most of us are unaware of how much sodium we are swallowing in the first place.
If you are one of those people who grab the salt shaker the minute your meal comes, you probably have heard that you should lay off the layering of salt, but the fact is that's not where we get most of our sodium. It's in processed, packaged foods somewhat hidden unless your look for it.
Joanne Shearer is a Registered Dietitian at the Avera Heart Hospital. She tells us, "It's listed on every label on every packaged food. We need to keep the sodium to less than 200 mg per serving in packaged foods. If you can do that you will very successful at lowering your sodium intake."
So taking something that's healthy like low fat cottage cheese can be unhealthy when it comes to sodium. One serving (1/2 c) has almost 500 mg of sodium, 300 mg too much.
Shearer says, "Too much salt is bad for you because it can increase your blood pressure and high blood pressure contributes to heart disease, kidney disease and heart failure."
Shearer says most of the food we order at restaurants is loaded with sodium too. If you want to lower your blood pressure she says steer clear of gravy, sauces and soups and ask your waiter to ask the chef not to add any extra salt to your meal.
She added, "The overall dietary guidelines say we should be limiting our sodium to 2300 mg per day. The standard American diet is between 5000 and 6000 mg a day so we are way overeating in sodium."
Joanne says fresh is always best. Stick to shopping the perimeter of the grocery store, eat whole natural foods, try to exercise more and you will not only lower your blood pressure, you'll likely lengthen your longevity.
Equally as important as lowering our sodium intake to decrease our blood pressure is increasing our potassium intake. Potassium is found in fruits and vegetables.