Eating Too Much High Sodium Food Causes These Health Risks
What is a High Sodium Food?
This is any food with high levels of sodium – a mineral that is necessary for life. The American Heart Association recommends a daily intake of not more than 2,300 milligrams.
Nonetheless, most people across the world take excess salt without even realizing it.
One of the primary contributing factors is that people take a lot of high sodium food without even realizing it. Although we mainly get sodium from salt, it is naturally present in nearly every food that we take.
Nonetheless, the levels in different foods vary considerably. This means that even foods that don’t taste salty might have some sodium.
High levels of sodium are particularly found in some processed foods. Usually, salt adds flavor to foods. While sodium is beneficial, constantly eating high-sodium food leads to several health risks.
Why is Sodium Good for the Body?
1. Regulation of body fluids
Sodium is among the minerals that aid in maintaining fluids balance in the body. It helps to regulate the body fluids outside the cells and is required to pump the fluids into the cells.
Besides, it facilitates the movement of body fluids to areas with a high concentration of sodium. Therefore, this essential mineral controls the levels of extracellular fluids in the body
2. Prevention of sunstroke
Sunstroke comes about when you get exposed to high temperatures for a long duration. It arises due to the failure of the body’s heat regulation system.
This means the body becomes unable to maintain normal temperatures. But sodium prevents sunstrokes by helping to maintain essential electrolytes in the body. In doing so, it boosts the functioning of the heat-regulating system.
3. Blood pressure control
Maintaining appropriate levels of sodium in the body helps to regulate blood pressure. This translates to normal heart contractions.
Taking the recommended amount of sodium controls not only blood pressure but also prevents many health conditions that are caused by having excess sodium in the body.
4. Brain functioning and development
Sodium promotes proper brain development and improves its operation. This means one needs to maintain appropriate levels of sodium for the brain to develop and function properly. Low levels of sodium are likely to cause lethargy, dizziness, and confusion.
Other benefits of sodium include influencing muscle function, transmitting nerve impulses, preventing sore muscles or cramps, and balancing ions in the body.
What are the health risks of eating too much high sodium food?
1. Increased blood pressure
Consumption of excess sodium leads to high blood pressure. Live Science explains that too much sodium raises blood pressure since it holds more fluid than needed in the body.
This burdens the heart, making it work harder. Besides, a systematic review on salt intake revealed that the risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke increase with high salt intake.
Overeating salt increases the amount of calcium excreted through urination. This means that high sodium food can cause a calcium shortage.
When that happens, one is likely to develop osteoporosis. A study on menopausal women revealed that a decrease in the density of hip bone was associated with sodium excretion.
Thus, excess sodium intake increases calcium loss from bone, resulting in bone thinning and loss of bone strength.
3. Stomach cancer
One of the health risks of high sodium food is the risk of stomach cancer. Increased intake of high sodium foods, sodium or salt, has been linked to stomach cancer.
According to AICR, salt-preserved foods, including vegetables, fish, and meat or even red meat substitutes, irritate the stomach lining over time.
This irritation increases the chances of developing stomach cancer. Swelling of knees, kidney problems, and bloating are other health risks associated with consuming too much sodium.
Common Examples of High Sodium Food to Avoid
Seafood is a heart-healthy food that can help to reduce blood pressure by lowering cholesterol levels. However, salty seafood, such as canned tuna fish and shellfish, constitute high sodium food.
For instance, four large shrimp contain 200 mg of sodium. Thus, avoid such salty foods and go for better seafood like haddock, salmon, and fresh tuna.
While spaghetti is one of the common foods in the dinner rotation, rethink about its preparation if you care about your salt intake. This is because a cup of this food can have up to 1000 mg of sodium.
If you are a fan of other foods that contain additional sodium, you need to avoid spaghetti sauce. You can replace it with low-sodium pasta.
Frozen meals are other salty foods that you should avoid by all means. Meatloaf or pizza dinners are among frozen foods that might contain sodium levels of up to 1800 mg.
Consuming frozen foods regularly will motivate your body to retain excess fluids that lead to serious health conditions.
Canned vegetables and soup
Ensure that you carefully check the labels of canned products as some are packed with high sodium food.
Some canned soup contains 1300 mg of sodium. Avoid such foods and instead prepare your own using fresh and low-sodium ingredients.
When it comes to tortillas, they are high sodium food with a 10-inch tortilla containing up to 500 mg of sodium.
This clearly shows the risk of consuming such foods regularly.
A great alternative would be a plain cord tortilla that may contain sodium levels of about 11 mg in a 6-inch round.