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Jeruba's avatar

What does "low sodium" mean with respect to soft drinks?

Asked by Jeruba (46950points) May 23rd, 2009

I’m looking for a rule of thumb. To avoid high-sodium soft drinks, I can easily read the labels and see that one is higher than another. But how low is low? Are they all too high? I’d like a number: soft drinks with more than x amount are considered high; with lower than x are considered low. How much is x?

When I try to get this information by Googling, I can find lists of sodium contents and advice that tells me to choose foods and beverages that are lower in sodium, but I am not seeing the rule of thumb. What is the right amount of sodium to consume, and what’s too much?

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6 Answers

Zaku's avatar

I suggest you invent your own rule, because then you will have an understanding of that rule and it’ll be more relevant to you than another person’s invented value for such a strange concept.

Also, unless you are in the soda business, what I expect you really want to know is how much sodium to consume per day, and therefore how much each food item contains, and not really whether each can of soda qualifies as “low sodium”. Any sodium will add to your daily total, which is what matters to the person.

To that end, the US government recommended daily allowance for average folks seems to have dropped in 2004 from about 2400–2500 mg to 1500 mg . So, you can compare that to the sodium in all foods, including soda.

Jeruba's avatar

@Zaku, is it such a strange concept? I took a diet class a while back, and the instructor said things like “Don’t purchase salad dressing that has more than 15 grams of fat per tablespoon” and “Avoid any beverage that has over 25 grams of carbohydrate per serving.” I wasn’t concerned about sodium at the time, but isn’t a similar guideline available? If it is possible to talk about low-sodium foods, it should also be possible to say what “low” is.

If a person is told to follow a low-sodium diet, what guidance are they given in evaluating foods? (I have not been put on a low-sodium diet; if I were, I would probably have been given this rule of thumb. I just want to know what it is.)

augustlan's avatar

You many find this link interesting. It still doesn’t really define low sodium in terms of sodas, but it gives you an idea of what the average sodium content in one is, and how that compares to other common foods/beverages. Mostly, I think you will just have to compare the sodium levels between different types and brands. That’s what I did while following a low-sodium diet.

Zaku's avatar

@Jeruba Yes I agree it makes sense to compare typical foods and consider some to be low or high in some components. I guess I wasn’t thinking of sodium as a natural component of soda, and soda seems so artificial… but I suppose that’s mainly just my bias.

I suppose you can take the amount of sodium per day that’s considered low (currently 1500mg) and then for each food try to say what a typical amount to consume would be per day, or if it were the only type within a group consumed that day, how much would be consumed per day and see if that would lead to consuming more or less than the guideline. That’s different than categorizing by the type of food, and expecting the eater to know which foods naturally have salt or not. (For instance, I was surprised at sodium in soda, but maybe that’s part of what makes it _sod_a.)

For example, what’s a low-sodium fruit juice? Versus a low-sodium margarita? Or low-sodium BBQ potato chips? Should it mean that you can eat low-sodium products all day no matter what they are, and have a low-sodium diet? Or is just relative to the type of food and the traditional expectation of how much sodium it’d have? I think it’s generally used to mean the latter, but then that requires people to have knowledge of what’s supposed to have sodium or not, and how much they ought to eat. Not that that’s a problem, but it’s a different way of solving the problem of not consuming more than one would like.

augustlan's avatar

The food that most surprised me with its sodium content was milk. So weird to think there is sodium in the most unlikely places!

Zaku's avatar

Interesting. Sodium in milk makes sense to me since animals use/contain sodium.

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