You thought a high salt diet came from using the salt shaker? Think again.
Most of the salt we eat comes from common foods at the grocery store and restaurants. We know salt exists on chips and pretzels, but there is hidden salt in foods such as soups, breads, cereals, cottage cheese, deli meat and even pork and chicken.
We love salt. It tastes good and is used as a natural preservative. It also helps balance fluids in the body, contracts and relaxes muscles, transmits nerve impulses and allows substances to flow in and out of each cell. But too much of a good thing can cause health problems.
A new report from the (CDC) Center of Disease and Prevention shows that bread, pizza, poultry and cold cuts top the list of high sodium foods. Health problems from too much salt (or sodium) include high blood pressure and risk for heart disease which includes stroke, heart attack, heart failure and kidney disease. The problem is that these diseases sneak up on us. Meaning they don’t have obvious symptoms and are “silent”.
The prevalence of hypertension among adults 20 years of age or older increased from 24% to 34% between 2005-2008 (http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/hus/hus10.pdf#066). The life-long risk of developing hypertension after age 60 is approximately 90%.
High blood pressure being defined as systolic BP> 140 mmHg or average diastolic BP>90 mHg. So age naturally increases our risk of hypertension. Why add unnecessary salt to the fire?!
So how much salt is OK? On average, we consume about 3200 mg of sodium per day. The healthy target is 2300 mg/day or 1 tsp. Only about 5% of salt is added as salt when we prepare food or from the salt shaker.
It’s time to read labels and ask servers or chefs about salt in your food. You may be surprised how much sodium is in your diet. And please, please get your blood pressure checked.