The Facts about Salt
by C. Markus
Salt is comprised of sodium chloride or NaCl. It is essential to life in small quantities, yet harmful in larger doses. Too much salt is known to increase your risk of high blood pressure, a major cause of heart attacks and strokes, which are the 1st and 3rd leading causes of death in the United States.
It’s not necessarily the salt we put on our foods that is causing the problems; it’s the salt that is already in the food. The vast majority of salt we consume, around ¾, comes from processed food. This makes it very difficult for us to regulate proper salt intake. It is recommended that Americans ages 2 and up consume no more than 2300 mg of salt per day, which is around one teaspoon. For people that are over age 51, are of African American descent, have high blood pressure,diabetes, or kidney disease, it’s recommended to consume 1500 mg per day. This, however, is not often the case in the United States – it’s estimated that the average adult consumes 3400 mg of salt a day, which is well over the recommended amount.
The problem will continue to worsen unless something is done; it is up to us to make to right choices, because the food companies will not.
Here are some tips to reduce your daily sodium intake:
- Take note of the amount of sodium in your favorite foods, and try to cut the ones with excessive amounts.
- Read labels at the grocery store; most products offer a low-sodium version so make the right choice.
- When eating at a restaurant, ask the chef to put in less salt. Most establishments will accommodate your request.
- If a recipe requires salt, add it towards the end. If you put it in early, the salt flavor will be muted, requiring you to add more salt overall.
- Use herbs and spices instead of salt to add flavor while keeping salt content down.
- Go light on the condiments. While they may be tasty, condiments contain large amounts of sodium.
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