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Hold the Salt

Filed Under: Health Foods at 9:41 am | By: Susan Coyle, Senior Editor
Salt Shaker“Pass the salt,” is one of the most commonly uttered phrases at dinner tables around the world. Everything from vegetables to eggs to meats to pastas gets an extra dash of sodium prior to eating. It’s habit. See a potato? Add some salt. The only problem is we’re adding too much. Most processed foods and a good number of unprocessed foods already have sodium in them, but we don’t seem to care And as a result, we surpass the recommended 2,300 mg per day, every day, which is doing nothing for our health.

Sodium is one of those minerals you need and one that, in surplus, can kill you . . . indirectly, of course. You need sodium to help balance your fluids, transmit nerve impulses, and contract and relax muscles. However when you get too much, your heart is forced to work harder, increasing the likelihood of high blood pressure and similar cardiovascular diseases.  In fact, it’s been found that every extra gram of salt raises a child’s blood pressure by .44mmHg, and the average child is getting at least two grams more than the recommended daily amount.  Now, think about yourself. How much are you consuming every day? What is this doing to your heart? If you already have a higher risk of cardiovascular disease, passing the salt could be one of the worst moves of your life. But, don’t fret too much; there is good news. Decreasing sodium intake can reverse, or at least help, what you’ve been doing up until now, possibly reducing your risk of heart disease by 25 to 30 percent.  That’s no small amount, so get to it. 

You can start by stepping away from the salt shaker. I know it will be hard, but you can eat that meal without a sodium sprinkle. You might even be surprised by how good the food still tastes. Also, consider cooking more meals from scratch. That way you can omit salt from recipes whenever possible, opting instead for a different spice. Then, buy whole, unprocessed foods. Most processed foods are jam-packed with sodium and are, therefore, going to defeat the goal. If you do buy processed foods (it is virtually impossible to avoid them completely) look for low-sodium products. They’re just as good as the regular ones in terms of taste and shelf-life,  but have the added benefit of not overtaxing your heart.  So do yourself a favor; hold the salt. You may be surprised to discover a world in between bland and salty.

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