The British Medical Journal recently published an analysis on the effects of too much salt in our diets.
According to their research, which looked at 13 studies from 1966 to 2008:
High salt intake is associated with significantly increased risk of stroke and total cardiovascular disease. Because of imprecision in measurement of salt intake, these effect sizes are likely to be underestimated. These results support the role of a substantial population reduction in salt intake for the prevention of cardiovascular disease.
Over at Food Politics, Marion Nestle points to the study’s commentary which calls for more regulation in the food industry. Since “nearly 80 percent of salt enters the diet through processed and pre-prepared foods,” they argue that regulation is the best way to keep salt from sneaking into our diets so much (you can sign this petition to support sodium-reduction policies).
Is regulation the answer? Sure, it would be great to see restaurants and food companies step up and consider the health impacts of the food they’re producing. Iím just not sure it’s something that legislation alone can address.
One of the big problems, as Nestle points out, is that:
Öthe taste for salt depends on how much is eaten. On a low salt diet, even lightly salted foods taste salty. But if you are used to eating a lot of salt, it takes even more to taste salty. So the object needs to be to reduce salt in the diet across the board.
If we’re going to reduce salt intake across the board, consumers need to have a clear idea of salt’s health impacts. Education is key.
Not only do folks need to know the risks, they need solutions. If processed- and restaurant foods are the major culprits, it sounds like home cooked meals might be the answer.
Preparing home-cooked meals makes it so much easier to monitor how much salt is going into your food. Why wait for regulation when you can take charge of your diet in your very own kitchen? Here are three low-sodium recipes to get you started in reducing your risk of stroke and cardiovascular disease:
White Bean Soup with Greens and Rosemary
Autumn Vegetable Stew with Kale
Ginger Couscous Primavera
Do you guys have any favorite low-salt recipes? Share away in the comments!
Help Limit America’s Sodium Intake! Tell the FDA and FSIS to support policies that help reduce our collective consumption of salt.