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How Much Salt is Too Much?

How Much Salt?

We have always heard that too much salt is bad for us.  Recently, however, the government (FDA) released new guidelines.  These guidelines are voluntary but suggest that 150 categories of food decrease the sodium level in their food.  First let me say that I'm not a big fan of the government regulating the way we eat (I know I'm being political here and you may or may not agree).  Secondly, we could solve this whole delima is we don't eat processed foods and stop adding a ton of salt to the food we cook.  In this case the FDA is trying to regulate processed foods. If you stay away from these products these new guidelines shouldn't matter.  With that being said, what is the appropriate amount of salt we should consume?  If you were to stick to a completely unprocessed diet then you will get the appropriate amount of sodium naturally.  For example, if a serving of food in it's natural state contains no more than 50 mg of sodium per 100 calories.  However, if we look at the label of a processed food and that same 100 calorie portion contains 200 mg of sodium then you know 150 mg of sodium has been added.  The suggestion by Joel Furhman M.D. is that you consume no more than 300-500 mg of added soduium a day.  That basically allows you to have one serving a day of something that has sodium added to it.  Why the need for such low sodium intake?  The reasons abound but here are a few that will make you want to cut your salt intake or at least drastically reduce it!

  • Salt increases the bodies excretion of calcium leading to increased bone loss and osteoporosis.
  • Salt increases our susceptibility to Heliobacter Pylori which causes stomach ulcers.
  • Salt has been shown to be associated with higher rates of stomach cancer.
  • High salt intake has been associated with high blood pressure and high blood pressure has been associated with increased risk of heart attacks, stroke, kidney failure and senility.

 

I don't know about you but that is reason enough to steer away from processed food and watch how much salt I add when cooking.  Americans are addicted to salt and just like any other addiction it may take a few days or even weeks to adjust.  Try it for a week or two and I bet you begin to notice a whole array of other flavors that before were masked by salt!

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