Take-out food may provide an easy way for busy students to eat between classes, but the amount of sodium found in processed foods and restaurant foods can lead to serious health risks.

For American Heart Month@@http://www.prweb.com/releases/2012/2/prweb9164658.htm@@, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention conducted a study focusing on how much sodium Americans consume. The study found that about 90 percent of Americans eat more than the recommended 2,300 milligrams of sodium in a day.

Consuming too much sodium increases a person’s risk for high blood pressure, which can lead to heart disease or stroke — two leading causes of death in the United States.

But cutting sodium out of American diets is not easy. More than 40 percent of sodium is found in foods not usually associated with being heavily salted, such as bread, cheese, pasta and meat.

For University students, many items served on campus are packed with sodium, even those that are often perceived as healthy. For example, a club sandwich on flatbread at Subway has 1,180 milligrams of sodium@@http://www.dailyinterestingfacts.com/food/subway-nutrition-facts.html@@, and the vegetarian tortilla organic soup at DUX Bistro has 1,960 milligrams of sodium.

At Panda Express, chow mein with orange chicken and a side of veggies has 2,210 milligrams of sodium — almost 100 percent of the recommended daily sodium intake.@@http://www.pandaexpress.com/menu/nutrition.aspx@@

“In general, college students make up a large portion of the market for processed and frozen foods,” University nutritionist Jessica Wilson said. She doesn’t think many students are aware of how much sodium is in processed foods.@@http://www.linkedin.com/pub/jessica-wilson-ms-rd/14/a98/a8a@@

“We’ve gotten used to eating things with a lot of salt added,” she said. “Our taste buds don’t even realize if something is overly salted.”

University director of Food Services Tom Driscoll@@http://housing.uoregon.edu/about/profile.php?staff_id=29@@ said sodium in foods served on campus is a “hot issue” at the University.

“We do a lot of scratch-cooking here,” Driscoll said, in order to avoid processed foods with added salt. The University cafeteria makes its own soups, dressings and hummus. Driscoll also mentioned that all food vendors on campus cook with dry beans instead of beans from a can, which have a high amount of [email protected]@As a Central Kitchen employee, I find this statement [email protected]@

For students, Wilson said buying beans in bulk is an easy fix to reduce sodium intake. Wilson also recommends students try to cook from scratch and cook large portions on the weekend so they can have leftovers during the week, which saves time and money. But often, Wilson said, students look for a quick and cheap bite to eat and turn to high-sodium options.

“When it comes to making money, lower sodium foods are not the money-makers,” Wilson said. “Cheaper foods typically have more sodium.”

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