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Easy on the salt: avoid sodium binge eating

Published: Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Updated: Friday, May 17, 2013 13:05

sodium

Special to The Prospector

Experts say that to avoid sodium binge eating, people should eat non-processed

   Ramen Noodles are known to be one of the college favorites because they’re cheap and easy to make, but the popular food contains over 1,400 milligrams of sodium, which can be harmful to students’ health.

Aida Moreno-Brown a dietician and professor at UTEP said that sodium is one of the major underlying problems of the American diet.

“Every semester I collect a dietary analysis from my students and on their reports sodium is always over dosed,” Moreno said. “Thing about salt is that it is already in so many of the foods we eat and can be hard to avoid. My advice is to just stick to non-processed foods.”

Sodium is a mineral that is needed by the body in order to carry out specific functions such as fluid and electrolyte balance and nerve impulse transmission. It also helps carry certain nutrients to body cells and regulates blood pressure and the pH levels in the body.

The dietary recommendations from the Food and Drug Administration suggest that people should only have between 1,500 milligrams to 2,400 milligrams of sodium per day. Fifteen thousand milligrams is only a little bit more than half a teaspoon, while the typical U.S. diet ranges from 2,300 milligrams to 4,700 milligrams of sodium per day, according to Moreno.

 Hypertension can result from eating too much sodium, Moreno said. Hypertension is abnormally high blood pressure that can put one at risk of a heart attack, stroke, kidney disease, dementia and loss of vision. Currently in the U.S. one in three adults has high blood pressure, according to Moreno.

Freshman Vanessa Garcia, a criminal justice major said that she never understood why eating too much salt could be bad for her until her doctor let her know that she had high blood pressure.

“I realized what I was doing to my body and didn’t want to end up a statistic,” Garcia said. “People take their health for granted and I saw this as my chance to fix it. I eat very little processed foods and I’m proud to say that my blood pressure is stable now.”

With one cup of Ramen Noodles containing 1,400 milligrams of sodium and other seemingly healthier alternatives like a turkey Subway on whole wheat bread with pepper jack cheese containing 1,200, lowering one’s sodium intake can be tough.

According to sophomore, Marc Martinez, a civil engineering major, the trick to cutting sodium is to simply get rid of any food in a package, and lunch meats and cheeses.     
“I’m not a fan of the sweeter foods, my guilty foods are more like potato chips and pizza,” Martinez said. “But I found that I was eating way too much salt so I have certainly cut back because high blood pressure runs in my family. At first it was hard but once you cut it out, your taste buds seem to change.”

Martinez recommended using lots of spices on meats and veggies. Spices like cayenne pepper and Mrs. Dash will put the flavor back into the meals and replace the saltiness. Eventually the salt cravings will disappear or not happen as frequently, Martinez said.

Even though a lot of these comfort foods are a must sometimes, it is recommended to eat them in moderation and always be aware of how much sodium is in each meals.

Ashley Pacheco may be reached at prospector@utep.edu.

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