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What Do You Know About Your Daily Salt Intake?

What Do You Know About Your Daily Salt Intake?

According to a study published last week in the New England Journal of Medicine, almost every adult across the globe takes in an excess of salt. Specifically, the research found that in 181 countries out of a total of 187 for which the data was available, adults consume too much sodium. In just a few African nations — notably Kenya, Cameroon and Gabon — was sodium consumption kept below the recommended level.

The World Health Organization recommends a daily intake of two grams, but researchers at Tufts University discovered that the average daily intake of sodium per person is a whopping 3.95 grams of sodium: almost twice as much.

The researchers further concluded that this over-consumption of salt is a major cause of high blood pressure around the world, leading to 1.65 million premature deaths annually from cardiovascular problems and strokes. Forty percent of those deaths occurred before the age of 70, and 84 percent were in low- and middle-income countries.

Dariush Mozzafarian, dean of the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University, who led the research, is convinced that a reduction in salt intake would lead to the lowering of blood pressure and fewer deaths. “What needs to be done is to have a national, coordinated policy on salt in food for the United States,” Mozzafarian says.

Balance is the Key

But wait a minute, doesn’t salt have some good qualities, too? After all, the truth is that we all need a little bit of salt because it helps keep our body fluids at the right concentration. And if you have low blood pressure, you may actually need to add salt to your diet.We are even reading lately that scientists have come up with a way to inject a salt solution into our bodies to kill cancer cells.

We are all different. And, as usual, it’s important to use common sense in deciding what’s right for you.

Still, the majority of us eat more salt than we need, and this can increase our volume of body fluids and, as noted above, push up our blood pressure. And the scary thing about high blood pressure is that it often has no symptoms but can lead to serious health issues.

Read the Labels

As salt is often a “hidden” ingredient in many foods, it can sometimes be difficult to work out how much we are eating. Some foods, such as chips, olives and bacon, taste obviously salty and can easily be removed from your diet if you are trying to cut down.

However, 75 percent of the salt we eat comes from processed foods, such as bread and cereals. Even sweet things,such as cookies, have salt added to them.

To keep track of your salt intake, get into the habit of reading the nutritional information on food labels, where you will find the salt (sodium) content for a 100g serving.

As a rough guide:
a high amount of salt is more than 1.5g for 100g (0.6g sodium)
a low amount of salt is 0.3g for 100g (0.1g sodium)

In case you’re wondering about sea salt versus table salt, here’s the scoop: sea salt does have some benefits. Gourmet chefs rave about sea salt because of its coarse, crunchy texture and stronger flavor, and manufacturers of chips and other snacks declare sea salt as “all natural,” not processed like table salt. And yes, sea salt does have extra minerals like magnesium. But the sodium content in sea salt and table salt is virtually identical.

Do you know what your daily intake of salt is?

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78 comments

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10:24AM PDT on Aug 29, 2014

Thank you for the information :)

7:50PM PDT on Aug 26, 2014

noted.

2:17PM PDT on Aug 26, 2014

Noted.

6:15AM PDT on Aug 26, 2014

Having been raised by a Mother on a low sodium diet because of her high blood pressure. I can unsafely say that even though I do not salt my food, I probably eat more salt than I realize, since there is so much hidden salt here there and just about everywhere.

5:58AM PDT on Aug 26, 2014

Most people get too much and some people are sodium sensitive.

6:59PM PDT on Aug 25, 2014

A lot of salt is bad for most people, and a little salt makes food tastes better- so go easy on the salt shaker, but don't ban it...

5:41PM PDT on Aug 25, 2014

Easy for me, who has the time to cook from scratch, to say stay away from processed foods, but that's where the heavy salt is hidden. Has anyone looked at soup at the store lately... lots of salt and added sugar. Thanks for posting, good article.

1:22PM PDT on Aug 25, 2014

Thanks for sharing.

11:18AM PDT on Aug 25, 2014

NObody knows. With all the theories there is no solid proof of anything.

Sodium, just as one example, plays an important role in regulating the renin/angiotensin system (an extremely important hormonal pathway that helps regulate blood pressure, fluid balance, kidney function, vascular tone, and probably a few other things). Restricting sodium intake increases renin levels, which can have numerous adverse effects in people who are not salt sensitive. Indeed, in some people, blood pressure actually increases with sodium restriction.

6:16AM PDT on Aug 25, 2014

ty

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