Chicken: The Food With More Sodium Than You May Realize

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roasted chicken is not limited in sodium
Cook taking ready fried baked chicken with vegetables from the oven. Healthy cooking concept.

Increasingly, today’s consumers are eating more chicken largely due to its versatility and low cost. Indeed, if prepared in a healthy way (ie. baked, rotisserie, or grilled), chicken can have certain nutritional benefits.

However, there’s a secret threat dwelling in this popular meat of which many may not be aware: excess sodium.

The Practice of Plumping

The USDA recommends a diet that has no more than 2,300 mg of sodium per day. However, many of today’s chickens in the market have gone through a process called “plumping” which poultry processors proclaim helps keep the meat tastier and juicier.

Plumping is the process of injecting the chicken with salt, broth, seaweed extract or some combination of these things. The result is a greatly increased amount of it in the meat.

A regular, un-plumped chicken breast contains as little as 50 to 75 milligrams of sodium per 4-ounce serving but “enhanced” chicken that has been injected can spike it up to as much as 400 mg per serving.

Dangers of High Sodium

The body needs sodium to control blood pressure and blood volume and our muscles and nerves need sodium to work properly. A diet high in sodium, however, can create preventable health risks.

Specifically, if your body has too much sodium, the heart must work harder and blood vessels are under more pressure. This added stress can lead to high blood pressure (hypertension), heart attack, and stroke. Hypertension is the leading cause of death around the world as it causes heart disease, stroke, and kidney failure.

Who’s at Risk?

Anyone whose salt intake is too high puts themselves at risk for health problems but some individuals, in particular, should be more cautious. Specifically:

  • African Americans
  • People who have high or slightly elevated blood pressure
  • People who have diabetes

Learn More About the Sodium Levels in Chicken

It’s important to monitor your blood pressure to ensure you’re not increasing your risk for hypertension. Talking with your doctor can help you navigate creating a diet that is best suited to your body’s needs.

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