Everywhere we go we see packaging that says "Reduced Sodium" or "Less Sodium" and health advice indicating that we should watch our salt intake, but what does this really mean?
"Basic U.S. dietary guidelines suggest that adults get less than 2,300 milligrams of sodium each day (or 1,500 milligrams for those age 51 or older, African Americans, or those with high blood pressure, diabetes or chronic kidney disease)...But the average American gets more than twice the recommended daily dose of sodium: 3,466 milligrams of sodium per day. This means we're at risk of dangerously raising our blood pressure" (DeNoon, "CDC: Average American Gets Twice Recommended Sodium Intake"). The same article says that 9 out of 10 Americans consume too much salt each day. To see if you are one of these 9, consider keeping a food journal for a week (or even a few days) and tracking the sodium content of your foods.
"A recent article in the "New England Journal of Medicine" looked at the potential impact of reducing salt intake. The report found that if Americans cut their salt intake by 3 grams a day, new cases of heart disease, stroke and heart attack would significantly drop — as would the number of deaths. The authors estimate that these changes could save between $10 billion and $24 billion in health care costs annually" (Nelson R.D. and Zeratsky, R.D., "Shaking the Salt Habit").
Many Americans eat a high sodium diet without ever adding salt to their food. This WebMD slideshow shows some of the most common culprits - high sodium foods that you may not expect. Among the most common sources of sodium in our food are breads, chicken, pizza, pasta, and cold cuts (DeNoon). Prepackaged food is often very high in sodium. Read labels carefully, because often serving size is used to manipulate the appearance of healthy levels of sodium (and fat, sugar...).
"Is sea salt better for your health than table salt? No. Sea salt and table salt have the same basic nutritional value, despite the fact that sea salt is often marketed as a more natural and healthy alternative. The real differences between sea salt and table salt are in their taste, texture and processing, not their chemical makeup... By weight, sea salt and table salt contain the same amount of sodium chloride" (Zeratsky, R.D., L.D., "Is sea salt better for your health than table salt?").
A Few Simple Steps: Here are some simple steps you can take to help reduce the sodium in your diet.
- Keep a food journal for a week (or a few days) to track your sodium intake.
- Use fresh or frozen veggies, or rinse canned veggies before you use them to reduce the sodium they come packaged in.
- Read all packages carefully, especially serving sizes.
- Know the lingo - "Unsalted" means they did not add salt, it does not mean there is not salt in the food. (See slide 16 for a full list of sodium definitions.)
- Ask for nutritional information before ordering at a fast food restaurant, and eat very low sodium the rest of the day.
- Condiments count, so make sure you read the nutritional information on your condiments.
Why does the Church care about Wellness? Click here
Sources:WebMD and Mayo Clinic: WebMD Salt Shockers by by Kathleen M. Zelman, MPH, RD, LD, CDC: Average American Gets Twice Recommended Sodium Intake by Daniel J. DeNoon, Is sea salt better for your health than table salt? by Katherine Zeratsky, R.D., L.D., and Shaking the salt habit By Jennifer Nelson, M.S., R.D. and Katherine Zeratsky, R.D.
Thu, December 8, 2011
by Thea Mangels filed under