We’ve long known that in general Americans are heavier than Europeans—and now a new study shows we’re also being fed more salt!
A new study published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal compared the salt content of 2,124 foods in six major fast food chains. What they found is that the amount of sodium in American and Canadian fast food is considerably higher than foods sold in the United Kingdom and France.
For example, McDonalds Chicken McNuggets sold in the US contain 2.5 times more sodium than the same McNuggets sold in the UK. A Subway club sandwich sold in France has 500 mg of sodium, but the same sandwich sold in the US packs a whopping 1,200 mg of salt. Plus, dramatic sodium differences were found in a number of other fast foods.
But high sodium is only half the story. You also need to watch your sodium-potassium ratio. Our kidneys tend to get rid of potassium but hang onto sodium, knocking our sodium-potassium ratio out of balance. Eating fast food gives you high sodium, with little if any potassium.
So, how can you protect yourself and your blood pressure?
- If you haven’t already taken fast food off your list of foods to eat, do it now. Also, don’t be duped by healthier sounding alternatives on fast food menus. Grilled chicken sandwiches or salads can contain as much as 1,600 mg of sodium—or more—per serving. Add the dressing, and you’re likely to top 2,000 mg.
- Remember that fast food isn’t the only culprit—you need to watch the amount of sodium in all of the foods you eat. Some of the biggest sources of hidden salt include salad dressings, tomato sauce, and canned soup.
- To increase your potassium intake, eat copious amounts of vegetables and a serving or two of fruit per day and drink 8–16 ounces of Low Sodium V8 Juice. At the Whitaker Wellness Institute we add three parts potassium chloride (Nu-Salt or Morton’s Salt Substitute, available in most grocery stores and health food stores) to one part regular table salt which makes a delicious seasoning.
Now it’s your turn: How do you avoid eating too much sodium?