Salt is essential for our daily health, but too much can lead to serious illnesses. For example, high amounts can eventually lead to high blood pressure. And, if not controlled — your hypertension can further lead to chronic illness such as cardiovascular disease, respiratory distress and obesity.
Of course, cutting down our salt intake is easier said than done. First of all, it adds flavor to our foods and second, it tastes great!
Dietary salt, or table salt, is made from two chemical elements: sodium and chloride. That’s why its chemical name is sodium chloride. It’s the sodium part that’s been tied to health problems. But since most of the sodium we ingest is from salt, it’s difficult to separate the effects of salt and sodium in many studies.
Salt: Health Effects
The best-known effect of salt on our health is on our blood pressure. The primary effect is to raise blood pressure to dangerous levels. Hypertension can cause heart disease,, kidney failure, and other health problems.
Experts recommend that adults take in less than 2,300 milligrams (mg) of sodium a day. This amount translates to about 1 teaspoon. Unfortunately, the average daily intake per person in the United States is —that’s what’s in about 6 grams of salt, or about a teaspoon. People with high blood pressure should shoot for 1,500 mg. But right now, American adults eat an average of about 3,600 mg of sodium per day. This translates to a tad less than 2 teaspoons.
It’s really not as difficult as you might imagine. In fact, a very modest decrease can have dramatic health benefits. Best of all you wouldn’t even feel a taste difference.
Right now, added salt in our processed foods adds as much as 10% of to our consumption. That’s way too high. The culprits are processed foods and restaurants. The bad foods are cold cuts, canned foods, bread, cereals, crackers and any kinds of chips.
The amount we add to our food actually accounts for about 10% of our consumption. Most of what we eat comes in processed foods from stores, restaurants, and dining halls. You may already know that fast food, cold cuts, and canned foods tend to have a lot of sodium.
Before you put that item into your shopping cart, read the label. All ingredients are labeled as percentages. Try to select foods that have less than 5% of the daily value of salt per serving.
Make the effort, your health depends on it.