Sneaky Salt!

June 26, 2010 | Health Advice | By: Jennifer Brull | Tags: ,

Nine in ten Americans get too much salt in their diet every day…and only 10% of it comes from the salt shaker!  Did you know that the foods you eat each day may be contributing to fluid retention and high blood pressure?

Basic U.S. dietary guidelines recommend that adults get less than 2,300 milligrams of salt each day.  For people who are middle aged, elderly, or African-American (about 70% of the population), the recommendation is less than 1,500 milligrams of salt per day.  The average American gets more than twice the recommended daily dose of sodium: 3,466 milligrams of sodium per day.  This means we’re at risk of dangerously raising our blood pressure.

That high blood pressure increases our risk of heart disease, stroke, and kidney disease.  The CDC calculates that if everyone followed sodium-intake guidelines there would be as many as 120,000 fewer cases of heart disease and up to 66,000 fewer strokes each year.

The three food groups from which we get the most sodium include some surprises:

  • Grains contribute 37% of our daily sodium. These foods include grain-based frozen meals and soups, breads, and pizza (which is mostly salty bread).
  • Meats, including poultry and fish, contribute 28% of our daily sodium.
  • Vegetables contribute more than 12% of our daily sodium. This seems surprising, but potato chips and french fries are vegetables. And canned vegetables, vegetable soups, and vegetable sauces tend to be loaded with salt.

What can you do?

  • Eat less processed food.
  • Eat more fresh and frozen vegetables.
  • Compare labels to choose low-sodium foods (and don’t be fooled by deceptive labels).
  • When using canned vegetables or beans, rinse the food well with water to remove as much salt as possible.

With these simple changes, you can lower your blood pressure and risk for heart disease and strokes.  Happy eating!