A little sodium in your diet is important for your body to function properly, but regularly having too much sodium doest not do your health any favors. Among other things, a high-salt diet has been linked with hypertension, heart disease, and stroke. Read on to learn more about salt intake and the benefits of lowering yours:
DID YOU KNOW?
Our body only needs 300 mg of sodium each day.
That’s only about a 1/4 teaspoonful of salt!
Excessive high salt intake UPS your risk for high blood pressure.
People with high blood pressure then suffer heart failure, kidney failure, heart attacks and strokes. High salt intake also complicates the treatment of high blood pressure and heart failure. 9
The average daily intake for folks in New Orleans (and the USA) is more than 3400 mg. of salt.
Recommended daily intake of salt: consume less than 2400mg of sodium per day. 1 The
majority (±90%) of the salt we eat comes from prepared foods. Only around 10% of our salt intake comes from what we add at the table or during final cooking. 9
1 dill pickle spear = 306 mgs of sodium | 1 cup dill pickle slices = 1,356 mgs. sodiumEven if you eat just one dill pickle slice, you are still consuming 61 milligrams of sodium, which is quite a bit for one tiny pickle slice.
12 oz. McDonald’s Chocolate Shake = 300 mg of sodium
Large serving of fries from McDonald’s = 350 mg of sodium
BENEFITS OF CUTTING SALT INTAKE
A recent study in South Africa looked at the impact of reducing salt on heart diseases. The
participants cut in half the amount of salt they consumed. The result showed 7400 fewer CVD deaths and 4300 less non-fatal strokes compared to the previous year. 2,3
KNOWING YOUR SALT
All salt is sea salt. The only difference between various salts is (a) if it was dug-up from an
ancient sea bed that is now dry (table salt), or (b) dried from newly gathered sea water (sea
salt). The drying process for sea salt can be natural (by the sun) or by boiling the water off.
Sea salt does have more “other” minerals than table salt. If you used sea salt for your entire 2400 mg for the day, you would get almost 5 mg of calcium (versus the 2.5 mg in table salt). Most people need 800 mg of calcium per day or more.
TIP: If you used sea salt for your entire 2400 mg for the day, you would get 12 mg more magnesium, 5 mg potassium and a whopping 17 mg of sulfate. 4 But since only about 10% of our daily intake is under our direct control, these amounts of minerals for most people will be much less.
NOTE: There is also some evidence that some sea salt products may now contain “micro-plastics.” These are the result of plastic pollution in the ocean. 10
TYPES OF SALT
TABLE SALT – Mined from ancient sea beds (like in Utah, Michigan, Pennsylvania) or salt domes (like Avery Island, LA) is sold either with or without iodine added to it. The iodine is added to help prevent people developing goiters and subclinical hypothyroidism. 7,8
Subclinical goiters are not a big concern in New Orleans since we tend to eat more
seafood (both animal and vegetable).
TASTE TIP: When you cook: kosher salt and those with other trace elements like pink salt or smoked salt can taste more intense than table salt. If used carefully as “finishing salt” – as a light dusting on the surface just before serving – they can help people use less salt overall. Put these more expensive salts into your cooking earlier and they basically just salt.
KOSHER SALT – Also known as “Flower of Salt” is a popular alternative to traditional fine grain table salt. It can be made from either type of salt (ancient sea bed or newly gathered sea water). Some brands use sodium ferrocyanate (Yellow Prussate Soda) to encourage the large star shaped crystals to form. These brands will list this ingredient on the label. 6
HIMALAYAN (OR PINK) SALT – A salt mined from the ancient sea beds of the Himalayan Mountain region.
SEA SALT – A generic term for salt from newly gathered sea water. Not tightly regulated by the FDA or USDA so many variations exist, even in terms of how much of the salt must be from newly gathered water. (± 96% NaCl)
GREY SEA SALT – A traditional French product made from newly gathered sea water. Atlantic sourced sea salts tend to have slightly higher amounts of Magnesium (0.4-0.8%), Potassium (0.11 -0.23%) and Sulfate (0.6-1.2%) versus Mediterranean sourced sea salt. 4
SMOKED SALT – A traditional product found in several native cultures around the world. It is characterized by a mild to strong smoked wood taste depending on the specific variety. Many consider this type of salt the most intensely flavored variety.
FLAVORED SALT – (many varieties – Truffled, Herbed, Spiced) – Salt with flavors (a) added to salted water which is then allowed to dry into salt or (b) stored with the salt for some period of time before sale. The intensity varies widely as does the usefulness of these mixtures.
A FEW TIPS FOR CUTTING BACK ON SALT
- Read Labels – read labels on all packaged foods, beverages, condiments, etc until you get familiar with lower sodium options
- Downsize Portions – A good rule of thumb is that the more calories a meal has, the more sodium it has.
- Get Fresh, Whole Foods – Choose unprocessed or minimally processed foods. Processed & prepared foods are the greatest sources of sodium in the American diet
- Spice it Up – Utilize ingredients such as spices, dried & fresh herbs, roots (garlic, ginger), citrus, vinegars, wine, black pepper, cinnamon, turmeric, chili peppers, lemon juice, etc – these flavor enhancers create exciting tastes with less sodium.
1. National Center for Chronic Diseases Prevention and health Promotion, division for heart disease and stroke prevention.Feb29, 2016.
2. Higdon J. An evidence-based approach to vitamins and minerals. Linus Pauling Institute. Thieme. 2003.
3..Bertram. M. Y, Stey,. K., Wentzel-viljoen, E.Tollman,S.,&Hofman, K.J. ( 2012). Reducing content of high-salted foods: effects on cardiovascular disease in South Africa. South African Medical Journal 102 (9), 743-745
4. Andrea C., Galvis-Sanchez, Joao Almeida Lopes, Ivnne Delgadillo, Antonio O.Ss. Rangel., Fourier Transformation near- ingrared spectroscopy Application for Sea Salt Quality Evaluation. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. Journal (59) 11109-11116.
5. Zeratsky K. What’s the difference between sea salt and table salt? Expert Answers, Mayo Clinic Foundation for Medical Education and Research 1999-2016 . FAQ-20058512. http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/expert-answers/sea-salt/faq-20058512. accessed July 2106.
6. Dorazio SJ, Brückner C. Why Is There Cyanide in my table salt? Structural Chemistry of the Anticaking Effect of Yellow Prussiate of Soda (Na4[Fe(CN)6]·10H2O). J. Chem. Educ., 2015, 92 (6), pp 1121–1124.
7. Turrentine JW, Merz AR, Gardner RF. Composition of the Salines of the United States. Ind. Eng. Chem., 1912, 4 (11), pp 828–833.
8. Hemenstine AM. What Is Table Salt? Chemical Composition of Table Salt. about Education. http://chemistry.about.com/od/chemicalcomposition/fl/What-Is-Table-Salt.htm. accessed July 2016.
9. Appel LJ, Angell SY, Cobb LK. Population-wide sodium reduction: The bumpy road from evidence to policy. Ann Epidemiol. 2012; 22:417-425.
10. Annonymous. Plastic found in in table salt, Pollution: Sea Salt might be delivering a dose of plastic to dinner plates. News of theWeek. Cen. ACS. ORG. 2015; November 2: 8.