What is Sodium?
Sodium is an essential micronutrient needed by the body for various body functions such as muscle contractions, optimum hydration, blood pressure control, nerve impulse transmissions, and pH balance maintenance.
Ideally daily sodium intake must be below 2300 mg per day for adults and even lower for those who are 50 or older. Athletes who train for more than two hours a day lose a lot of sodium through sweat and may requires sodium rich diet. Salt contains more than 40% sodium and a check on the foods rich in sodium ensures a balanced meal.
The fruit containing the highest sodium content is Mammy apple, a tropical fruit. One fruit or about 850 gm of mammy apple contains about 127 mg of sodium. Apple skin, guavas and passion fruits contain about 50 mg of sodium per serving. About 130 gm of honeydew melon approximately contains 30 mg of sodium.
Products made from these fruits like applesauce, apple juice, dried apples, jams made from apples and guavas are also sodium-rich. Avocados, papaya, mangoes, carambola, pineapple, bananas, watermelons and pears also contain sodium but in low quantities.
Celery and beet are two vegetables with high sodium content. One beet serving can have up to 65 mg of sodium, a large celery stalk can contain up to 70 mg of sodium and 100 gm of spinach can have up to 80 mg of sodium. Other sodium-rich vegetables are carrot, radish, cauliflower, broccoli and cabbage.
Tomato, mushroom, onion, chard, lettuce, bell pepper, chili pepper and cucumber are vegetables with low amounts of sodium. Since these are sodium-rich natural foods it is better to eat these than canned vegetables.
Sauces are high in sodium and they taste great. That dressing on your salad tastes good but it is can give you up to 10 to 15 % of your daily sodium requirement in just one or two servings. Teriyaki sauce makes food taste yummier but one tablespoon of it can have up to 700 mg of sodium and one tablespoon of soy sauce has more than 1000 mg of sodium. Consuming two tablespoons of barbecue sauce can mean ingesting about 300 to 320 mg of sodium.
Other sodium-rich sauces are oyster sauce, steak sauce and fish sauce.
All pickles are rich in sodium. It is always a good idea to limit your pickle consumption to few times a week only. Jalapeno peppers, olives, pickled cucumbers, pickled eggplant, sauerkraut and others are all high sodium foods. Pickles are consumed in some parts of the world on a daily basis. If you have to name one sodium-rich Indian food, it is pickles. All Indian kitchens shelves are stocked with at least few varieties of pickles.
All processed cheese is high in sodium. Your favorite parmesan and feta cheese are rich sources of sodium. Other cheeses with high sodium content are Romano, blue cheese, and Gouda. At times salt is added to cottage cheese also during the manufacturing process. Therefore it is best to buy and use only unsalted cottage cheese. Fast food, burgers, pizza and sandwiches are already high in sodium and cheese used in these recipes further increase their sodium content.
Fresh meat is a natural source of sodium. All types of meat contain medium to high amounts of sodium. Fresh cooked veal, fresh pork and half a chicken breast can contain up to 70 mg of sodium; and lean beef up to 50-60 mg of this micronutrient. Organ meats are also high in sodium. Beef tongue, calf liver and beef heart contain good amounts of sodium. . All deli meat, frozen meat snacks and packaged meat contain even higher sodium content
Fish and Shellfish
All fish is high in sodium content. Snapper, halibut, salmon, roe, mackerel and sea bass are common fish varieties that contain large amounts of sodium. Shrimp, oysters, scallops, lobster, crabs, clams, mussels and basically all shellfish are rich sources of sodium. Eating three ounces of lobster can mean consuming more than 400 mg of sodium. Steamed fish with little salt is the best way to eat your favorite fish.
Readymade breakfast cereals pack a lot of sodium -more than what is deemed healthy. Many cereals can have up to 300 to 350 mg of sodium per serving. Cereals like puffed wheat and even puffed rice are free of sodium. If you love your breakfast cereals look for products with low-sodium content. You can also mix up your low-sodium and high-sodium cereals to achieve a balance of sodium consumption in your breakfast meal.
All canned soup and packaged soups contain large quantities of sodium. Even low-calorie soups may contain sodium in high amounts. Homemade soups are always better even if you add salt and sauces to it; you might add less than what you get in canned or packaged soups. Some high-sodium soups are instant or packaged chicken noodle soup, onion, vegetable, tomato and spinach.