Which Wins Wednesday: Salty vs. Sweet?


In a perfect world, we’d love snacking on broccoli and carrots throughout the day. But let’s be real, most of us crave cookies, chips and other processed foods that are loaded with salt and sugar. In fact, the majority of Americans consume four times the recommended daily amount of sodium and more than twice the recommended amount of sugar. Yikes! Both culprits can wreak havoc on your health and your waistline, but is one worse for you than the other? Is it more beneficial to cut down your sodium intake or combat your sweet tooth?


Option 1: Shake Your Salt Habit


Eating a little bit of salt each day won’t hurt you. In fact, the body relies on sodium to perform essential functions, like maintaining the right balance of fluids, transmitting nerve impulses and influencing the contraction and relaxation of muscles. But in excess, salty foods can lead to some pretty serious health conditions, including high blood pressure, heart disease and stroke. The CDC recommends that you should consume less than 2300 milligrams of sodium each day – that’s 1 teaspoon of salt. Unfortunately, lowering your intake isn’t so simple – especially if you go out to eat or order takeout regularly. Processed and restaurant foods tend to be the biggest offenders. Bad news if you’re on Seamless every night.


Option 2: Beat Your Sweets Addiction


You’ve been going to spin class every morning and have been doing yoga in the evenings but can’t seem to shed that belly fat. What gives? Sweets could be the culprit. Sugar not only contains a whole bunch of empty calories, which can cause the body to hold on to fat, when it’s consumed in high quantities, it can lead to obesity and low HDL cholesterol levels, a strong risk factor for heart disease. The CDC recommends that women get no more than 100 calories per day from sugar and that men limit their intake to 150 calories. Not an easy feat, especially since sugar is hidden in so many foods… and downright tastes good.  


The Verdict

We’re not going to sugar coat it: both can do major damage to your body. If you need to make some serious changes to your diet due to health complications and are wondering whether a low-sugar or low-sodium diet is the best, you should ask a doctor to prescribe a specific plan for you. However, if your goal is to simply have more energy and see better results from all of the time that you’re putting in at class, cut down on cookies, muffins and other sweets. Sugar causes a rapid spike and drop in your blood sugar, which can zap energy and make you more likely to talk yourself out of your daily workout as well as stand in your way of losing weight. Set a goal to successfully eliminate sweets from your diet first, then tackle your salt habit.


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Michelle McIvor Cohen is a freelance writer and digital consultant in New York City who has held positions at Shape, iVillage, XO Group and SpinMedia. She is a spin junkie, nuts for yoga and is always on the lookout for a good mommy-and-me workout to do with her baby girl, Lyla. Follow her on Twitter.


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