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Count sodium intake in restaurant meals, processed food purchases

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Reading nutrition labels to eat healthier meals can be tedious. Restaurant patrons just want to enjoy their meals without deciphering every single gram of fat, carbohydrates, fiber, sugar and protein. But once the health conscious get used to keeping a nutrition diary and reading nutrition labels, it becomes second nature and it's also a useful way to figure out where your meals are going wrong. Reading those labels may put a stop to high sodium intake.

For example, say a shopper gets hungry while shopping in Target and heads to the cafe. He has a taste for a chicken caesar salad, a fruit and chicken salad, a turkey and provolone pretzel sandwich or a veggie pretzel (spinach and artichoke) sandwich.

Which of these items has the most carbohydrates? The chicken caesar salad has 15 carbs. The fruit and chicken salad has 24 carbs. The turkey and provolone pretzel sandwich has 46 carbs. The veggie pretzel sandwich has 48 carbs.

So it's safe to say that the salad would be the best choice, correct? Not necessarily.

Check out those same menu items but look down the sodium intake row. The chicken caesar salad has 1600 mg of sodium. The fruit and chicken salad has 1,190 mg of sodium. The turkey and provolone pretzel sandwich has 520 mg of sodium. The veggie pretzel sandwich has 330 mg of sodium.

Comparing the salads to the sandwiches, the fat intake is also higher (32 grams and 26 grams versus 15 grams and 23 grams). But who would think to question how healthy salad is versus a pretzel?

CDC reports that Americans consume too much sodium. The body needs 180 mg to 500 mg daily. An adequate intake level is 1,500 mg. A tolerable upper intake level is 2,300 mg. However, the average sodium intake for people ages 2 and up is 3,436 mg.

The Institute of Medicine recommends the following groups not consume more than 1,500 mg of sodium per day: People ages 51 and up; African-American people; and people with high blood pressure, diabetes, and chronic kidney disease.

Salt intake at home isn't nearly as much to blame as the increasing amount of salt being included in processed foods and restaurant meals. By watching food intake across the board, CDC confirms that the annual death rate from heart-related issues would decrease.

Follow Shamontiel on Pinterest for all her latest Chicago nutrition and fitness entries, or subscribe to her Chicago Diet and Exercise channel at the top of this page. Also, follow her @BlackHealthNews.

Follow Shamontiel on Pinterest for all her latest Chicago vegetarian entries, or subscribe to her Chicago Vegetarian channel at the top of this page. Also, follow her "Diet & Exercise" and "Vegetarian World" Pinterest boards.

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