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With a grain of Salt

Friday, May 17, 2013

I'll admit, we nee a dash of salt in our diets, but generally our diets have too much salt in them. Even if you never add a salt shaker to your food, it's hiding everywhere. I'll bet that you get at least your daily minimum from the few things you add to your meals.

I found a great slideshow that elaborates on surprising places you can find salt and all the names it comes under on your labels:

The maximum an adult should get is 2,300 milligrams of sodium a day, reducing to 1,500 mg after age 51 or if you have a history of high blood pressure, diabetes or chronic kidney disease. The majority of Americans get 3,400 mg a day. How does this come to be?

First off you have to look at all the names it comes in (and some of it is not the NaCl, Sodium Chloride, that would be ideal).

sodium alginate
sodium ascorbate
sodium bicarbonate (baking soda)
sodium benzoate
sodium caseinate
sodium chloride
sodium citrate
sodium hydroxide
sodium saccharin
sodium stearoyl lactylate
sodium sulfite
disodium phosphate
monosodium glutamate (MSG)
trisodium phosphate

Just think of all those names you have to look at when trying to figure out what's making your food so salty. It's almost as bad as trying to figure out your sugar intake!

Fortunately, you can break down and look at the label to find out how much salt is in each serving because it's listed right there under "sodium". When something is listed as "low fat" or "less sugar" you might find more salt. I've seen it myself on a similar product when it was low fat. There wasn't much less fat for a lot more salt. It is surprisingly harder to find "low sodium" products than I was able to find a decade ago, but you can find things that say "touch of salt" that mean the same thing. You should be used to reading labels by now on anything that has a label. You have to decide what you want to cut and what is really healthy for you.

Food labels like to claim certain things on their fronts and these are a few of the things that pertain to salt intake:

Sodium Free: has less than 5 milligrams of sodium per serving, that doesn't mean you're actually salt free.
Very Low Sodium: 35 milligrams or less per serving.
Low Sodium: Less than 140 milligrams per serving.
Reduced Sodium: Sodium level reduced by 25%.
Unsalted, No Salt Added, or Without Added Salt: This product is made without the salt that's normally used, but still has it's natural salt content.

Think that just food has salt? Don't forget your medicine cabinet. Some headache and heartburn medications have salt as part of the ingredients.

The majority of sodium comes from processed foods (no surprise there) since it is a great way to keep your food from spoiling longer. Fortunately you can read the labels and make smarter choices after doing the research at the isle. Look at the different brands to see what they have to offer, sometimes one brand will offer a low sodium version while another won't.

Like to eat out? One meal out, and sometimes just one item will give you enough sodium for a couple of days. I've found that, especially in fast-food, it's a choice between calories and salt intake and many times both are more than I'd like. Some places are saltier than others. Soup will be the worst offender. Find out how your meals are made, for example, McDonald's burgers are salted on the griddle, so you can cut down your salt intake by asking for "no seasoning" on your burger. Not only will you get a fresh piece of meat, but you've just cut down on your salt intake for your meal. If you feel the need for fries with that, ask for them unsalted too.

Do you use condiments? Those are some of the worst offenders on your dinner table. 1 tablespoon of ketchup has 167 milligrams of sodium, sweet relish 122 milligrams, capers (drained) 255 milligrams and soy sauce is the winner with 1,000 milligrams of sodium in one tablespoon!

Many things have natural sodium in them, so you're not getting absolutely no sodium in your day. They don't have a great abundance in them, they are a good source of your sodium. Vegetables, many dairy products, meat and shellfish are natural sources of sodium. For example, 1 cup of low-fat milk has about 107 mg of sodium.

When making recipes, use less salt or even no salt. You'd be surprised how good food tastes salt free. The shaker shouldn't be a staple on your dinner table. I disagree with all those professional cooks that say "salt makes the taste of other food come out". I think they're just used to the taste of salt and don't know what real food tastes like without the salt. All I taste is salt when it's added. Even the fact they say "I can tell you used salt, good for you" just proves that they are tasting the salt and not the food also.

The Mayo Clinic says to try to avoid foods that have more than 200 mg of sodium per serving. It adds up quickly when everything you eat has sodium in it, so the minimum of 500 mg that SparkPeople says to eat can be easily met, it's harder to keep it under your high end when you eat out or have anything processed.

Some more interesting links for today's topic:

Different salts to use in your cupboard:

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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    The chicken broth I buy has a 'low sodium' version and a 'no salt added version'. The 'no salt added' version actually seems to be better all around than the 'low sodium' one (nutrition information-wise. It's kinda bland, but when do you use broth just by itself?). Talk about trying to confuse consumers. If someone was on a 'low sodium' kick but not a label reader, I can see them assuming that 'low sodium' would have lower sodium than 'no salt added'. Or maybe that was just me? And if you were just scanning the labels for 'low sodium', would you notice the 'no salt added' version a few shelves below?
    1586 days ago
  • KAREN608
    1500...oh my.
    I agree with that number but some days I have much more than that.
    I don't have a sweet tooth, I have a salt tooth!
    1591 days ago
  • BOPPY_
    I'd say you were the "salt of the earth" for informing us, like this, but I fear you'd be offended. emoticon

    Thank you,

    Lee emoticon
    1592 days ago
  • MISSG180
    Reducing salt is one I may never accomplish. I'm addicted.
    1592 days ago
  • CHERYLA2012
    Yep, yep... yep, yep, yep!

    So with you on the sodium. Started really paying attention to my intake in the Fall and I've made huge strides health-wise because of it. Got my husband 4 different kinds of Mrs. Dash to use as opposed to salt. Even went back to using crushed tomatoes as my base for all "tomatoe-y" things because there is no salt added to this already low-sodium product, as well as no sugar.
    1592 days ago
    So true. I also find that things labelled as a good item for a calorie controlled diet are often the worst! I try to avoid packaged/processed foods wherever possible and cook from fresh ingredients, adding herbs and spices to create depth of flavour.
    1592 days ago
    That's why it's always better to eat food as close to nature as possible! emoticon

    I do admit I love salt, thank goodness I have low blood pressure so I don't have to limit my salt intake. emoticon

    emoticon for the info! emoticon
    1592 days ago
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