The foods and drinks with more sodium that you consume daily

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Sausages are one of the meat derivatives with more sodium.

Excessive sodium consumption is considered the main dietary risk associated with high blood pressure, increased risk of stroke, cardiovascular disease, and premature death. The sodium intake in the Spanish population exceeds the recommendations of the World Health Organization (WHO) by 25 milligrams daily, since the total intakes reach 2,025 mg of sodium per day, that is, approximately 5.06 grams per day salt (excluding salt added on the table or during cooking). These are the results of the Anibes study, carried out on 2,009 individuals between 9 and 75 years old, and recently published in the scientific journal Nutrients.

Would you know how to identify the foods and beverages that hide the most sodium in your diet? We help you recognize them: "The main food groups that contribute to sodium intake in the Spanish population are meats and meat products (27%), cereals and derivatives (26%), milk and dairy products ( 14%) and prepared meals (13%) ”, two of the Anibes researchers, Teresa Partearroyo, professor at the Department of Pharmaceutical and Health Sciences at CEU San Pablo University (Madrid) and Gregorio Varela Moreiras, explain to CuídatePlus. Professor of Nutrition and Food Science at the Faculty of Pharmacy of the aforementioned university and President of the Spanish Nutrition Foundation (FEN).

The first thing is to explain the difference between salt and sodium. Salt is the common term used to refer to sodium chloride, consisting of 40% sodium and 60% chloride by weight (5 g of salt is approximately 2 g of sodium) and provides approximately 90% of the sodium consumed through of the diet.

Sausages, white bread, cheeses ...

Among the main dietary sources of sodium found in this study, it is worth knowing that:

In the meat and meat derivatives group, the foods that contribute most to sodium intake are sausages and fatty sausages (18%), followed by fatty meats (3.9%) and lean sausages (3.2 %).

 Within the cereals and derivatives group, the foods that contribute the most are white bread (17%), followed by pastries and pastries (4.3%) and cookies (2.2%).

 In the group of milks and dairy products, cheeses are the ones that have the greatest contribution to sodium intake (6.9%), followed by milks (4.7%) and yogurts and fermented milks (1.6%). ).

 Within the group of fish and shellfish, the foods that most contribute to sodium intake in the Spanish population are canned fatty fish (tuna type) with 2.5%, followed by seafood in general (1.2%) and white or non-fatty fish with 0.8%.

 While milk contributes 4.7% to sodium intake in Spaniards, the rest of non-alcoholic beverages contribute 0.8% and alcoholic beverages contribute 0.5%.

 Regarding precooked foods, the authors acknowledge that they have not been able to subdivide due to the high heterogeneity of this group.

We take more sodium at dinner

This research, in which sodium intake has also been analyzed according to different occasions of consumption, has shown that dinner was the food that most contributed to daily sodium intake, since it represented between 30 and 37 % of total intake. After dinner, lunch was located in the next place, providing between 25 and 34% of the intake. The mid-morning and snack provided only between 5 and 11% of the total sodium intake.

"It is difficult to indicate what may be the reason why dinner is the meal of the day that contributes the most to sodium intake. What is clear is that we Spaniards consume more sodium-rich foods at night. Recall that the foods that contribute the most to sodium intake are sausages and other processed meat products, closely followed by bread, prepared meals, cheeses and canned fish and shellfish, "say the researchers.

However, Partearroyo and Varela consider it important to remember that dinner is usually the time of the day when people usually eat at home, "which means that we can adopt measures to reduce sodium consumption both personally and as a family."

Some ‘spend’ more than others

"If we look at the gender of the people analyzed, we have found that men have a significantly higher intake of sodium than that obtained by women, regardless of age. In any case, we must bear in mind that these differences could be attributed to the higher male dietary intake, since when we have adjusted the intakes according to energy these differences are not maintained, ”explains Varela.

It should be noted that, according to the body mass index (BMI), as indicated by the coordinator of the scientific study, “overweight children showed a significantly higher sodium intake than those who were underweight. However, no significant differences were observed in the rest of the age groups in relation to the different BMI values ​​”.

Nutritional tips not to exceed the recommended sodium

Reducing the dietary intake of sodium is a very relevant public health objective, since the intakes of this macro mineral in the Spanish population are above the recommendations in all ages, mainly in children. However, as indicated by the Spanish Heart Foundation, salt intake should be reduced to 1 g per day, especially in hypertensive patients or those with heart failure. In cases of advanced heart failure or hypertension that is difficult to control, cook without salt.

Given the established health benefits of dietary salt reduction, it would be advisable to continue, and even improve, current national awareness and education campaign initiatives, and in particular food reformulation to decrease overall intake of salt in the Spanish population ”, indicate the authors of the Anibes study. They also offer the following recommendations to limit sodium intake from now on:

Limit the consumption of prepared foods, bread, cheese, meat products, preserves and canned, due to its high sodium content.

 Avoid using precooked or concentrated flavored sauces, as they are high in salt.

 Dress salads and other dishes with pepper, onion, garlic, lemon, vinegar, oil, parsley ... as substitutes for salt, since they provide a lot of flavor and are within the traditional concept of the Mediterranean diet.

 Cooking in water can be a culinary technique of choice when preparing foods that contain large amounts of sodium, since it passes into the osmosis cooking water and, therefore, reduces the sodium content of that food. In the case of using this culinary technique, it must be taken into account that the cooking water must not be used.

 Reading the nutritional composition of the foods we buy is a practice that we must do routinely, since many pre-cooked foods are high in salt.

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