Nutrition Articles

Shakin' It Up with the Skinny on Salt

The Danger is Not in the Shaker

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By Laura Bofinger, Staff Writer         
Page 1 of 2
Even if you are not a potato chip and pretzel junkie, you’re probably eating more salt than you realize. Sodium, the main ingredient in table salt, can hide in places you don’t suspect, like in ketchup, frozen dinners, instant hot cereals and some medications.

What’s Harmful About Sodium?
High levels of sodium can cause the body to retain too much fluid. This can be harmful to people with high blood pressure or heart, liver or kidney diseases. People with these conditions should be especially careful about sodium intake. But there’s some debate on whether everyone needs to worry about all of this salt talk. We’ll listen to the USDA, who recommends that we need to choose and prepare foods with less sodium. The average American adult consumes about 2,500 to 5,000 milligrams of sodium a day. But we only need 1,100 to 3,300 milligrams, or about 1/2 to 1-1/2 teaspoons. That can be a pretty big difference.

Where are we getting so much sodium in our diets?
Think about all the times we add salt during cooking or as a seasoning to a prepared meal. Surprisingly, our own salt shaking doesn’t compare to the major sources of “hidden” sodium in our diets found in processed foods and baked products. Some examples include salad dressings, mustard, meat tenderizer, cheeses, instant foods, pickles, canned vegetables and soups, salsa and barbecue sauce. Even common medications such as antacids, laxatives and cough remedies contain sodium compounds.
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About The Author

Laura Bofinger Laura Bofinger
As a freelance writer, Laura uncovers some kind of inspiration every day when she writes about health and fitness.

Member Comments

  • Sodium is in almost everything except whole foods. I have been trying to cut back on it all year and it isn't easy. Reading labels has helped me a lot. - 3/8/2016 2:59:54 PM
  • Take a look at how much sodium the people of Japan eat. Then look at their rates of heart disease and high blood pressure. Then tell me again how dangerous salt is. (Pro tip: It's not the salt that's killing us.) - 1/21/2016 8:48:40 AM
  • ANDREWPANDA
    What shocks me is all the people who watch the sodium levels, but figure sea salt is OK. Sea salt is still sodium chloride and does the same amount of damage as regular salt if too mach is ingested. Plus according to the American Heart Association, the extra minerals are just in minuscule amount, and people will get them if they eat a well balanced diet. - 12/29/2015 4:52:35 PM
  • For the record, you can find pretzels that have fewer than 240 mg per ounce, if you read the labels; Bachman rods for example.
    - 11/16/2015 12:45:23 PM
  • Which brand of pretzels has 1,029 mg of sodium for 10 mini rounds? I've read a lot of pretzel bag labels and haven't seen one that is that high. Most are in the range of 350 to 450 mg. per ounce. Glad they are a limited snack in our house. - 11/16/2015 12:44:12 PM
  • Without looking at more than 2 pages, I assume that someone has already pointed out that USDA recommends 2300 mg maximum. Probably this article should be either amended or stricken. There are enough internet articles claiming that 2300 is too low. - 11/13/2014 9:29:56 AM
  • I always thought lowering salt consumption was good for everyone, but found out it caused nearly fatal problems for me. I have low blood pressure (as do my two children) and the lack of salt was causing me to black out several times a day. My doctor told me to be free with the salt shaker and make sure I never get dehydrated. - 2/18/2014 11:39:15 AM
  • I retain water very easily, so I do my best to keep my salt intake under 2,300 mg daily. It's hard, but if I have too much salt, my feet and ankles immediately balloon up. Now I use minimal salt when cooking and use other seasonings, as well as steering clear of sodium laden prepared foods. - 1/28/2014 7:13:42 PM
  • Great Article. Thanks for the salt kick. - 12/6/2013 4:50:43 PM
  • While I find it somewhat difficult to attain a lower consumption of salt its also important to note most of us DO NOT get enough calcium or POTASSIUM in our diets which tend to alleviate some of sodium's bad effects. - 11/14/2013 9:17:25 PM
  • I find all of these comments very helpful. I have switched to Sea Salt for my table and sometimes cooking. Usually I use Lawrys seasoning salt for better flavor with foods and I find I use way less to season with because it has other seasonings to enhance the flavor. An added plus is that it has less salt per serving than traditional salt.
    And I am not surprised they use tons of salt in sweet foods. That's how they addict you with the sugar and salty boosts you get from them. Yep , my big behind knows all about that. (Insert disgusted eye roll here) Now I am paying in spades trying to reverse the bad effects of that. - 6/21/2013 4:21:56 PM
  • When I leveled out in my weight loss, I wondered why I wasn't losing and noticed my sodium was on average 4000 mg per day on my reports. Started keeping track and now strive to keep it under 2300 mg. In 2 weeks I dropped 17 lbs! In 3 weeks my BP went from 171/101 to 162/82 and lost a total of 24 lbs.
    It is worth obsessing over! - 2/22/2013 10:08:11 AM
  • Thank you for th-is insightful reminder that the danger is not necessarily in the shaker.

    God bless!

    - 11/15/2012 3:30:27 PM
  • I've always watched my sodium intake; I've always been a label reader. - 11/15/2012 12:33:23 PM
  • My hypertension was from menopause and not from sodium.

    Be careful if you go the lite salt way, they usually have a high concentration of potassium which is not healthy either.

    I think if you are one of those that has heart or kidney problems, it's very important to cut down (or out) the processed food it has too many hidden everythings. I like a little salt and pepper on some things, but I've noticed if you buy the gourmet salts you tend to use less for more flavour. - 11/15/2012 3:54:40 AM

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