By Paul Goldfinger, MD, FACC. Co-author of “Prevention Does Work: A Guide to a Healthy Heart.”
This small 15-ounce can of cooked peas in water contains 3 1/2 servings. Most of us can easily eat the whole can because it seems healthy to do so and it goes down easy. One portion has 380 mg (milligrams) of sodium (salt). The whole can contains 1,330 mg. sodium. That’s a huge amount, but not unusual for many processed foods such as canned soups.
On the other hand, a 16-ounce package of frozen raw mixed vegetables (Wegman’s “Just Picked and Quickly Frozen” Japanese Stir Fry) has 5 servings, but each serving has only 10 mg. of sodium. If you eat the whole package, you get only 50 mg. of sodium. If you buy the Wegman’s shelled green peas in a microwave bag, the sodium content is zero and the nutritional value is probably better if you enjoy them raw than if you eat the cooked peas in a can.
Salt contains sodium and chloride, but the sodium is the important component. The American Heart Association recommends that we all consume less than one teaspoon of salt per day. A teaspoon of salt has 2,300 mg. of sodium.
We all should try to keep our sodium intake under 2,000 mg. This includes what’s in your food and what you add to food. Learn to wean yourself off added salt. Fresh corn on the cob seems to beg for salt, but you can get used to enjoying it without the sodium chloride. Avoid processed foods because they often contain extra salt, unless you find a product like our frozen vegetables.
When you read labels, ignore everything on the package except the ingredients. Look for the mg. of sodium. Also look for portion size, because sodium content (along with all other ingredients) is given according to a portion size which may be surprisingly small.
Fresh foods are always best. Processed foods often have added sodium for taste and/or preservation. Please read labels and make good choices for you and your families.
Now you can’t say that a doctor never told you this stuff.
Cheer up—-here’s Leon Redbone: