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If Only I'd Taken it With Fewer Grains of Salt

August 4, 2011 by Joanna Drake, Registered Dietitian

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When I woke up this morning my mouth was dry and pasty. I felt like cotton balls had mopped up every drop of saliva. As I stumbled to the kitchen, desperately seeking fluid, I mentally searched for a reason. All I did last night was go for a walk with my kids and watch TV. But as I chugged down a glass of water and cast my eyes to the counter, I saw the evidence of from last night's guilty pleasure: the empty bag of chips that I had shared with my husband."Oh."

In a moment of weakness, I had succumbed to the siren-like call of a particular brand of potato chips. I turned over the crumpled bag to check out the sodium content - 460mg sodium for 28 chips (50 grams), and I'd had about half of the 220 gram bag. I'd had 1000 mg of sodium as a snack!

I'm usually pretty good at getting enough water to drink, but that wallop of extra sodium in the chips put me way behind, and caused my intense thirst. Here's why:

Sodium is one of the electrolytes needed by the body for proper fluid balance, nerve and muscle function, and to keep the acid level of the body normal. Too much or too little sodium in our blood can be fatal, so the body tightly controls the concentration of sodium in the blood.

When we eat salty foods, the sodium from salt is absorbed into our bloodstream. As this blood travels throughout the body, our brain (which is constantly monitoring the blood's concentration of sodium) initiates the sensation of thirst. Fluids we drink help bring the sodium levels back to normal as the kidneys flush out excess sodium in our urine.

I can't say that I will never indulge in potato chips again. But what I can say is that I will look for one with less salt next time, and pour myself a small bowl (instead of eating straight from the bag!).

What are your salty indulgences? Have you checked the sodium content?

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Comments (3)


Posted on Saturday August 6, 2011 a 4:29pm

I to enjoy a potato chips but I found that if I buy the snack size it limits my salt and calories intake


Posted on Monday August 8, 2011 a 10:05pm

seems obvious to me. I buy unsalted peanuts with about a quarter of the bag salted


Posted on Saturday December 3, 2011 a 7:06am

I love - love - potato chips! This along with some other sodium bad habits were putting me over my DV by a factor of three. I am trying to adjust to the 50% reduced salt chips and cut the portion size to also reduce the cravings. It is a real change for me, but it is making a difference!


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