I just finished watching both the VSH videos. They are GREAT!!!!!!
My question is, how important is it to monitor sodium/salt levels?!
I think for most Americans, whose sodium intake is 10x what is needed by the body and 3-4x what is recommended by the IOM, and 2x the upper limit, it is very important.
My blood pressure is very low (84/46 and NO meds of any kind) so I'm not concerned with hypertension. I do keep my sodium levels low (not using salt or using low-sodium varieties) but in looking through my cupboards, almost everything I have is above the 1:1 ratio!
Processed and packaged foods contribute the majority of the sodium in most peoples diets and, as you have learned, it is well hidden unless you have a system to help you understand how much is really there.
The "low sodium" health claim is based on sodium in milligrams per serving. That is irrelevant to you as an individual and your health as our limiting factor each day is not how many servings we eat but how many calories we eat. That is why my guideline is based on sodium in milligrams per calories per serving. And, as you have probably seen, many low sodium foods are actually very high in sodium.
Should I revamp or stay the course?
For now, stay the course and get a better picture of where you are at. Track how much sodium you are getting in total from all the packaged processed foods you eat.
Whole natural foods straight from the garden will provide around 300-500 mgs of sodium per day. The IOM recommended amounts are 1200-1500. The Upper Limit is 2300. So, this leaves you a little lee-way of around 700-1000 to still be within the recommended amounts and up to 1800 mgs to be under the upper limit. With no added salt coming from anywhere else, this leaves most people the ability to add around 1/2 to 3/4 tsp a day without increasing their risks.
So, first, just see how much you are getting from packaged foods.
Also, sodium is much more than BP. Excess salt is a direct cause of stomach cancer (though usually not a main issue in the USA as we do not have a high incidence). Excess salt is also related to osteoporosis. Excess salt increases your need for calcium. Salt is also related to GERD and congestive heart failure.
So, take a look and see how much you are getting in.
Jeff Novick, MS, RD