Sometimes you just crave something salty. We all know the feeling of wanting to rush to the supermarket and buy a bag of chips… or beef jerky… or snack mix… yum! Often this urge is scientifically categorized as “unhealthy,” whereas our bodies’ need for salt is a scientifically proven fact. A simple internet search of the word “salt” will reveal many sources on either side of the debate. And usually, they’re all right. While too much salt can be unhealthy, it is essential to proper body function—so much so that one of the four basic human tastes is saltiness!
So where’s the balance? Is salt good or bad for you? And where does the sodium in hummus figure in?
As with many diet-related topics, understanding our friend sodium chloride, and whether you should be trying to find a low salt hummus, comes down to a matter of balance. Specifically put, it is the measure of your salt intake vs. your salt usage.
The FDA recommendation for salt intake is between 1,500mg to 2,300mg for the average individual, and less than 1,500mg for those who have hypertension, or are middle-aged or older. Exceeding that limit increases the risk of high blood pressure, which can lead to heart problems and risk of strokes. Eating below the recommended amount can interfere with proper nerve conduction, kidney function, and muscle contraction.
Your daily salt usage, on the other hand, generally depends on how much you exercise. Think about it—sweat is salty! This means that as you sweat, your body is depleting its salt reserves, and must be replenished. Hyponatremia (low sodium) can cause you to feel weak, groggy, nauseous, and incoherent. At extreme levels, it can lead to stumbling, seizures, coma and death. This is why so many sport experts recommend drinks and foods that restore electrolytes, or natural salts within the body.
How much sodium in hummus is good for you?
The fact is, hummus is not a low sodium food. According to the FDA regulations, only foods with 5mgs per serving fit within that category, and hummus generally contains anywhere from 40-200mg per serving. Obviously home-made hummus can go as low as you like—you can even whip up a salt free hummus!—but you will find that most low sodium hummus recipes lack the signature appeal of this classic Mediterranean dip.
This means that how much hummus you eat, as with other foods, should be decided by your lifestyle. Hummus contains many healthy ingredients, including protein, fiber, healthy fats, and vitamins and minerals. If you lead an active lifestyle, then hummus is perfect for replenishing your body’s sodium stores, as well as providing other nutrients that keep you at optimum function.
However, if you have high blood pressure or family history of heart disease, or if you are older, then you may want to reduce your salt intake in one of two ways: reducing the amount of hummus you eat (Nooooo!!), or increasing how much potassium you eat. Potassium has been shown to balance the unhealthy effects of consuming too much salt, and it is generally found in dark green, leafy veggies such as arugula, kale, dark lettuces, broccoli, and the like.
So, if you want to be healthy, eat lots of greens and exercise! SHOCKER. Your body’s salt content matters, and to stay in good shape you can measure your hummus salt content appropriately.
Additionally, while HOPE is not a low sodium hummus, there are some brands that try specifically to lower their salt content. This is not to vouch for their other health attributes, but if salt is a health concern for you, then you may want to check out a couple options for low sodium hummus brands.
If you have any questions, feel free to contact us and a team member will gladly help you find the answers. As always, cheers and healthy eating!