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Shakin' It Up with the Skinny on Salt

The Danger is Not in the Shaker


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I've been following a low-salt diet for close to six months now due to health issues. I was told I could consume 2,000-2,500 mg of sodium a day and the ENT explained to me the danger of going too low on sodium. Some people need to consume 1,000 mg of sodium or less, but not everyone does.

An easy way to calculate is to aim for 500 mg sodium at breakfast, 600 mg at lunch and dinner and 100 mg at two snacks during the day.

I don't shun all prepackaged food. I don't have the time or energy to cook everything from scratch. If you keep your servings accurate, you can use some convenience foods as a complement to low sodium options to create meals. Cheese is a great example. If you don't drown your food in it, it can add flavor and saltiness to meals. By the way, Swiss is a wonderful low sodium alternative.

When looking at sodium content in foods, what surprised me the most was the amount of sodium in sweet products. Several examples are pancake mix, instant pudding mix and cake mixes all have well over 400 mg of sodium per serving.

Hope this helps. Report
While going crazy with the salt shaker if you are already eating a fast-food diet is a bad idea, I am in agreement with Dr William Davis that eliminating all wheat products and reducing carbs from grains and sugar are going to have a greater positive impact on your health than sodium restriction. Report

Refined Salt: White Poison - The problem with salt is not the salt itself but the condition of the salt we eat! Our regular table salt no longer has anything in common with the original crystal salt. Salt now a day is mainly sodium chloride and not salt. With the advent of industrial development, our natural salt was "chemically cleaned" and reduced only to sodium and chloride. Major producing companies dry their salt in huge kilns with temperatures reaching 1200 degrees F, changing he salt's chemical structure, which in turn adversely affects the human body. The common table salt we use for cooking has only 2 or 3 chemical elements. The seawater has 84 chemical elements. For our body to be healthy we need all those elements. When we use the common salt, we are in deficit of 81 elements which means we are somehow contributing to becoming weaker, imbalanced and more susceptible to diseases. Use the seawater salt. Report
As usual, moderation is key! As I recall, No Salt contains an aluminum derivative. A low salt diet can cause hyponatraemia (low blood levels of sodium) which increases mortality for patients with congestive heart failure. One example of the importance of salt is the common practice of starting an intravenous solution of salt and water as the first line treatment for a trauma patient upon arrival to the hospital Emergency Room.
There is good information with citations here:

Smaller holes on the salt shaker? My "salt shaker" has only one hole, and it's about the diameter of a 50-cent piece, LOL! I have reduced my salt intake quite a bit, but since I almost never eat factory-processed foods, sodium is not something I worry about. The problem is that people unwitting pay a high price for "convenience," and it's not always at the cash register. Report
Sea salt has up to 30% less sodium than table salt. Report
BTW: salt substitutes still contain chloride even if it's potassium chloride. still causes retention.

And by weight, sea salt and table salt contain about the same amount of sodium chloride. The only difference is the taste - table salt has been highly processed to get rid of the mineral taste while sea salt has a lot more minerals. Report
Leverb66: water consumption will not cause your body to release the water any faster. The chloride in your cells gradually dissipates and releases the water - usually 2-4 days. Drinking more water (up to 100oz or more if you choose) will certainly help regardless of your salt intake, because your body holds on to water anyways if you aren't getting enough. If you daily eat foods with only naturally occurring sodium, plus drink 100oz of water or more (of course not over doing it either) your body will release the extra water. Report
it's not the sodium, it's the sodium CHLORIDE. its the sodium NOT NATURALLY FOUND IN YOUR FRESH FOODS. It's the sodium contributed by the little word SALT listed in the ingredients list.

I eat less then 1,000mg of sodium but I can still get practically 1,500 just through what I eat. For instance, Celery, Egg whites, Spinach, Chard to name a few - are very high in naturally occurring sodium.

While this sodium can still raise your blood pressure and therefore you should moderate how much you eat and how it affects you - this sodium is also very accessible for your muscles, brain, etc to use and it's just as easy for your body to excrete and get rid of.

It's the CHLORIDE in the sodium chloride in your salt shaker that sneaks into the walls of your cells and forces the cell to inflate with water - causing an imbalance in your body (when you start to feel super thirsty after consuming salt) and therefore the water you drink needs to help put your body into a balance. Thus you get water retention.

You don't get the same water retention if any at all when you get your sodium from your meats, grains, fruits & vegetables. Report
It took a few months, but I was able to lower my bp to a normal range by watching the amount of sodium (decreased the amount) and potassium (increased the amount) in my diet. I agree that it usually means eating out infrequently and cooking most foods from scratch. But after reducing the sodium, I was able to taste the true flavor in whole foods. I get much more enjoyment out of eating now that I stay away from so much sodium. The sparkpeople food tracker really helps me keep an eye on the amount of sodium and potassium I consume on a daily basis. Report
Great article. I have to keep my sodium done because of heart problems. When I first started watching my sodium count I was shocked how much sodium was in some foods. Now anything high in sodium taste bad. Report
I was really interested in this article. Unfortunately, I couldn't read it because of an ad that kept cutting off most of the article. Report
I'm off my BP meds now because I have been vigilant about my salt intake. Mrs. Dash is a great substitute. Plus, I'm trying to eat more home cooked meals and not depending on prepackaged convenience foods. Report
Great topic! Tracking your sodium is a great way to prevent heart problems later on. There are some good low sodium cooking books, websites, etc too.,, are just a few that have saved me from a heart transplant. Report
My taste buds have seemed to be particularly sensitive to salt all my life. Even as a child I couldn't eat such things as scrambled eggs when salt had been added during the cooking. So, as I began cooking myself, I always cut back on the salt--sometimes omitting it entirely. When making all of my "old family recipes" and any new ones, I always cut back (at least 50%, if not more) on the salt. And, since I've been using sea salt, I can cut even that reduced amount in half as sea salt has a more intense flavor so you need to use less.

I use a lot more herbs and spices to flavor foods and, although my family knows this and I always tell guests that I cook with very little salt, if any, and they should feel free to add salt at the table if they want, usually after tasting the food they don't.

And for those who have to switch to a low- or no-sodium diet, it will take about 3 weeks to get used to the diet--after that you'll see that the really true taste of foods comes out and that it tastes great. Report

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