Cutting sodium intake now helps later

Sarah Bregman

Let’s face it, the average college student doesn’t have the best diet.

Convenient, cheap, tasty food that silences a rumbling stomach is all that matters after a long day of class, or a late night cram session. Once hunger strikes the average student will either reach for a packet of Ramen noodles, or may splurge and order a sub.

But one important factor is often neglected when students are deciding upon their next meal: sodium content.

2,300 milligrams of sodium (equivalent to one teaspoon of table salt) is the maximum amount of sodium the average adult should consume in any given day, but according to, 90 percent of Americans are getting far too much.

It’s easy to see why students are consuming too much sodium. One packet of Ramen contains 1,660 milligrams of sodium — that’s 70% of the recommended daily value! Jimmy Johns isn’t any better; one of the healthier items on Jimmy John’s menu, a number 6 Vegetarian, has 873.07 milligrams of sodium.

So if a student eats one Jimmy John’s Vegetarian Sub and has a packet of Ramen noodles in the same day, he or she has already consumed too much sodium, and that’s providing no additional table salt was added to any of his or her food throughout the day.

Consistently eating high-sodium foods can have serious health consequences, according to, such as high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke and kidney disease.

An article in Science Daily, a science research website, cites a recent study that estimates that, “reducing salt in the American diet by as little as one-half teaspoon per day could prevent nearly 100,000 heart attacks and 92,000 deaths each year.”

Now most students are not going to die anytime soon from getting too much salt, but the fact is what we do with our health now can have serious consequences later in life.

Cutting back on sodium is one of the easiest things students can do to improve their health.

Unfortunately, limiting salt is no easy feat. Salt is in virtually everything, particularly those quick, convenient, go-to foods college students eat every day. However, it is possible for students to maintain a low-sodium lifestyle and eat quick-and-easy food that won’t break their budget.

Planning and patience is key to reduce sodium consumption. Many common foods have ridiculously high sodium content, so it’s important to read nutrition labels. When eating out, especially at fast food restaurants, check online for the nutrition facts before ordering. Even food that seems like a healthy choice can have high levels of sodium.

Students should make lifestyle changes now, rather than waiting until their doctor diagnoses them with a disease related to their unsuspected cravings for sodium-laden foods.

Sarah Bregman is a columnist for the University Daily Kansan at the University of Kansas.