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Eating Too Much Salt?


Recommended limit for sodium is 2,300 milligrams (one teaspoon of table salt)


Eating Too Much Salt?
There are Ways to Cut Back Gradually

Salt, also known as sodium chloride, is about 40% sodium and 60% chloride. It flavors food and is used as a binder and stabilizer.

It is also a food preservative, as bacteria can’t thrive in the presence of a high amount of salt. The human body requires a small amount of sodium to conduct nerve impulses, contract and relax muscles, and maintain the proper balance of water and minerals. It is estimated that we need about 500 mg of sodium daily for these vital functions.

Globally, high sodium intakes are responsible for an estimated three million deaths. Implementing highly cost-effective sodium reduction policies could save an estimated 7 million lives by 2030.

Current average salt intake is estimated to be 10.8 grams per day (4310 mg/day), more than double the World Health Organization (WHO) recommendation of <2000 mg of sodium (equivalent to <5 g of salt or one teaspoon) per day in adults.

However today, only nine countries, Brazil, Chile, Czech Republic, Lithuania, Malaysia, Mexico, Saudi Arabia, Spain and Uruguay, have a comprehensive package of recommended policies to reduce sodium intake.

U.S. Report on Sodium Intake Reduction

Although, the recommended limit for sodium is 2,300 milligrams (mg) per day for 14 years and older, Americans consume 3,400 mg per day on average!

Ninety percent of American adults are eating more sodium than is recommended, and 4 in 10 Americans have high blood pressure. In non-Hispanic Black adults, that number increases to almost 6 in 10.

Too much salt in your diet causes you to retain fluid, making it harder for your heart to pump blood through your body, leading to high blood pressure. Reducing your intake of sodium chloride to 1,500 milligrams a day may help bring down your blood pressure.

When asked in researches about low or reduced-salt products, the main concern for consumers is a loss of taste. They also think that reduced salt products are especially relevant for elderly people and those with health problems.

Then, it appears that price and taste are the most important drivers, whereas health is not high in consumers’ minds. It is also clear that consumers do not want to compromise on taste for the sake of any health benefits (unless they have a particular health condition).

This taste challenge is specifically relevant to salt reduction, because salt is such a good taste enhancer and good replacements do not exist. In fact, when salt is drastically reduced in products, consumers switch to higher salt alternatives. Therefore, the first and preferred approach is to gradually reduce the salt content in products in small steps.

Salt substitutes made from potassium chloride look like regular salt and have a salty flavor, but have zero or low sodium. However, potassium doesn’t activate the same taste cells as sodium. That’s why people complain that these substitutes often leave a bitter or metallic aftertaste.

Moreover, anyone who has kidney disease or is on certain hypertension medications, should not increase potassium intake unless it’s approved by a doctor.

If you add lemon juice or vinegar, at the end of the cooking process, you’ll likely need less salt. Unfortunately, this practice is not recommended if you suffer from acid reflux.

Finally, using a combination of herbs and spices (Garlic, Lemon juice or zest, Ground black pepper, Dill, Dried onion or onion powder, Nutritional yeast, Balsamic vinegar, Smoked paprika, Truffle oil, Rosemary, Ginger, Coconut aminos, Coriander, Red pepper flakes, Apple cider vinegar, Cinnamon, Sage, Tarragon), or a seasoning blend, will add flavors and therefore could reduce the need for additional salt.

Ways to Cut Back Salt Gradually

Here are steps you can take:

▪ Try to cut back on foods high in sodium, such as deli-meat sandwiches, pizza, and burritos and tacos.

▪ Remember, it’s important to cut back both when eating at home and eating out in restaurants.

▪ Compare products. Before you buy, check the Nutrition Facts label to compare the sodium content, even in bread.

▪ Aim to stay under the Daily Value (DV) for sodium. The DV for sodium is the recommended daily limit. But your goal is not to exceed that amount. As a general guide: 5% DV or less of sodium per serving is considered low, and 20% DV or more of sodium per serving is considered high.

▪ Expand your spice horizons. Try no-salt seasoning blends and herbs and spices instead of salt to add flavor to your food.

Top Sources of Sodium

▪ Breads and rolls.

▪ Pizza.

▪ Sandwiches.

▪ Cold cuts and cured meats.

▪ Soups.

▪ Burritos and tacos.

▪ Savory snacks (chips, popcorn, pretzels, snack mixes, and crackers).

▪ Chicken.

▪ Cheese.

▪ Eggs and omelets.

▪ Mexican-mixed dishes.

▪ Plain milk.

▪ Poultry.

Excess salt intake has been linked to high blood pressure, and other health issues.

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