March 30, 2009

War on Sodium

Filed under: food,health — origamifreak @ 8:09 pm

OK, that’s IT. I’ve had it with the sodium. In fact, I think it’s more of a threat in my food than fat. Really.

Take, for example, Schwans Chicken Tortilla Soup.

One cup has:

  • 140 calories
  • 3.5g fat
  • 16g carbs
  • 12g protein

Sounds pretty reasonable, right?  Until you get to the part that says “1040mg sodium.”  What?!  Are you kidding me?  That’s more than half the sodium I’m supposed to get, per day.  The soup *tastes* salty, too.

Then we come to luncheon meat.  In order to minimize fat, we’re just comparing turkey.  I spent at least 20 minutes in the dairy section of Wegmans this morning looking at the backs of the packages to figure out what’s going on.  What’s going on is that the “Ultra Thin” sliced varieties have almost DOUBLE the salt.

There was a clear winner in terms of sodium, but it’s rawther expensive (75 cents per oz): Empire Kosher has less than half the sodium of most of the other kinds.  The best mainstream type was Hillshire Select Oven Roasted Turkey Breast, Hearty Slices (44 cents per oz).  I also looked at Oscar Meyer, Hormel, and Wegman’s own brand, and they were comparable to the high sodium Hillshire.

Brand Calories Fat Carbs Protein Sodium Cholesterol Iron
Empire Kosher Turkey Breast (3 slices = 57g), 57 gram(s) 50 0.0 1 11 300 30 4
Hillshire Farm Deli Select Oven Roasted Turkey Breast Hearty Slices (2 slices = 56g), 56 gram(s) 50 0 2 10 540 30 4
Hillshire Farm Deli Select Mesquite Smoked Turkey Breast (4 slices = 57g), 57 gram 50 1.0 3 8 620 25 4
Hillshire Farm Deli Select Honey Roasted Turkey Breast, Ultra Thin (6 slices = 57g), 57 gram(s) 60 1.0 5 8 650 25 2
Hillshire Farm Deli Select Oven Roasted Turkey Breast, Ultra Thin (6 slices = 57g), 57 gram 50 1.0 3 9 730 25 2

Now, onto salad dressings.  In general, when you give up fat, they replace it with either sugar (carbs) or salt (sodium).  I’ve found that the spritzers actually deliver the most flavor with the least caloric, fat, or sodium impact.  Here’s a breakdown on them:

Brand Calories Fat Carbs Sodium
Ken’s Lite Accents Raspberry Walnut Spritzer (10 sprays), 1 serving 15 1 2 35
Wish-Bone Salad Spritzers, Ranch (10 sprays), 1 serving 15 1 0 70
Ken’s Lite Accents Asian Spritzer (10 sprays), 1 serving 15 1 2 80
Ken’s Lite Accents Balsamic Spritzer (10 sprays), 1 serving 10 0.5 1 95
Ken’s Lite Accents Honey Mustard Spritzer (10 sprays), 1 serving 15 1 2 95
Wish-Bone Salad Spritzers, Italian (10 sprays), 1 serving 10 1 1 100

Wish-Bone makes an Asian-themed one I like that is no longer on the shelf at Wegmans, so I was pleased to see that Ken’s is branching into that market and Wegmans is stocking it.  Anything that makes my salads more interesting while providing a minimal macronutrient / sodium impact is good by me.  I haven’t tried the Ken’s dressings yet.  I can say that the Wishbone Italian goes better with tofu than the Ranch.

I’m having to order more of the Nasoya Lite Firm Tofu today from Urban Sun, in order to get it on Friday.  I seem to be going through about 6 lbs of tofu every 2 weeks.  It’s not cheap, but as a protein delivery method (while avoiding fats and sodium), it’s fantastic.  Plus it’s got all those nice plant estrogens and the calcium from the coagulant.

The Optimum Nutrition Whey Protein is helpful too, but tastes a lot better in milk than water, and milk has carbs in it.  And some sodium.



  1. Hmm. Maybe cooking a whole turkey and freezing it is a better option.

    Salt is a preservative so I wonder if that is part of the reason so many prepared foods have such a lot of it?

    For dressings, what about balsamic vinegar and mustard with some spices thrown in?
    Or those no-salt herb blends? Sauders has them.

    You are doing such a good job!

    Comment by jpm14 — April 1, 2009 @ 10:02 am | Reply

    • The Lord knows I’m trying to do a good job. But it can be tough. Recently I’ve been pushing away a cold that is trying to sneak up on me, and skating a fine line between eating enough to keep my energy up and eating little enough to maintain my current BMI. A glance at the little BMI graph at the bottom right of the page will tell you how it’s been going for the past couple of days. 😐

      Monday night I was just insanely Hongry, and engaged in a little night-eating that I shouldn’t have. Last night the H2O aerobics class went out because it was the last class of the term. At least in that setting I teamed up with a woman who’s lost over 60 lbs and always seems to choose the healthy entrees. We split a NY Strip Steak and salad, and skipped the potato. I had a slice of bread, even though she didn’t, but otherwise it was actually almost OK. So today it’s time to finish clawing my way back up onto the bandwagon.

      I’m sure you’re right about the processed foods needing sodium as a preservative.

      Just yesterday another friend recommended cooking boneless skinless chicken breasts and freezing them. Which would also work, because I generally use the meat in salads anyway, so it would be fine in chunks rather than slices. I’ll have to work on that this weekend. I don’t have any other plans, besides laundry and sorting/organizing my stuff in my temporary bedroom.

      Comment by origamifreak — April 1, 2009 @ 12:37 pm | Reply

  2. Update.

    Yesterday I “grilled” 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts in the convection-microwave and cut ’em up into cubes.

    I’m eating them in my salad right now. 4oz of meat, 26g of protein, zero carbs, and only 74 mg of sodium, baby!

    Comment by origamifreak — April 20, 2009 @ 12:25 pm | Reply

  3. Another anti-sodium tip:
    I really like Wegmans tamari almonds but I don’t love the sodium. So when I go to the bulk bins I mix a bag half and half of the tamari almonds and the unsalted ones. That way I still get the flavor, but half the sodium. (They’re both the same price, so it doesn’t matter if I buy them separately or together.)

    Comment by origamifreak — May 28, 2009 @ 7:47 am | Reply

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