Need to Know Facts About Salt
Even if you don’t shake salt on your food, chances are, you’re still eating far too much of it. Most of the sodium Americans consume comes from processes and restaurant foods, like sliced bread. Meaning that the average American currently consumes about 3,500 milligrams of sodium a day. In reality, you should be consuming between 1,500 to 2,000 mg and less if you’re at risk for high blood pressure and other cardiovascular problems.
The first step to cutting back, way back, on your sodium is to cut through the many popular misconceptions about salt.
Salt Lurks in Unsuspected Places
It may surprise you how many sneaky sodium bombs you eat everyday. Some obvious sources of sodium in your diet are frozen food entrees, process snack foods, luncheon meats, canned soups, frozen precooked meats and cheese. Though these seem obvious, other less obvious sources of sodium or highly overlooked. Restaurant foods; prepared pasta sauces, which may contain as much as 900mg sodium in a half cup; cereals, including some targeted for children that contain 200-300 mg sodium per cup; instant bread and muffin mixes; cottage cheese, which can have as much as 400 mg per half cup; and condiments like ketchup which have 190 mg of sodium per tablespoon. WOW!
You Need Less Salt Than You Think
Although eating the recommended amount of sodium sounds simple, in reality it’s a tiny daily allowance. Just one teaspoon of salt contains 2,300 mg of sodium. Americans 51 and over, those with high blood pressure, diabetes, or chronic kidney disease may need to limit their sodium intake even further, to 1500 mg daily, or the equivalent of less the ½ teaspoon of salt. Because salt intake so easily adds up, avoid adding it to foods or tossing it in boiling water before you boil pasta or vegetable. You’ll find that the food will turn out just as good without the added salt.
Salt Can Lead to Heart Health Problems
Most people know that sodium can send your blood pressure soaring, but a too salty diet over time can also lead to other health problems. A diet high in sodium can cause your kidneys to release more water, increasing the blood your heart pumps out second by second. This puts stress on your heart, as it has to work even harder to deliver fresh blood to your organs. If you know you have an elevated risk for heart disease, it’s best to limit your sodium intake as much as possible.
Salt Can Harm Your Nervous System
Although some sodium is essential for nerve health, overloading your system with salt can have serious consequences. Sodium plays a leading role in sending nerve impulses from your brain to the rest of your body. In order for the nervous system to function properly, it’s necessary to maintain a proper balance of sodium and potassium, but too much sodium can disturb normal nerve functions.
Sea Salt Isn’t a Healthier Alternative
A recent American Heart Association survey of 1,000 American adults found that a majority believe sea salt to be a low sodium alternative to table salt. The reality is that table salt and sea salt are the same chemically. Both contain the same amount of sodium ounce for ounce: 2,300 mg per teaspoon. The difference is sea salt come salted bodies of water that is produces when water is evaporated and regular table salt comes from mining underground salt deposits.
Flavor Foods Without Salt
It’s easy to add rich, robust flavors to your food without using salt. Healthy herbs like rosemary, sage, thyme, black pepper, and oregano, have wonderful antioxidants and health properties.
Be Wary of Commercial Salt Substitutes
Herbs aside, be skeptical of those low-sodium or no-salt alternatives that make extravagant health claims. You might come across salt substitutes that claim to have added healthy benefits but they may be fibbers. Do your research and make sure you know what you’re buying.