Do I really need to be concerned about salt?
Are increased levels of dietary salt all that significant to health?
At a recent conference I went to researchers reported it is VERY significant. Just a 1-2 point increase in blood pressure carries a higher risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke, particularly for the systolic pressure or the first number on the ratio.
Approximately 42% of Americans have normal blood pressure with 58% having elevated or borderline high blood pressure. The estimated lifetime risk for developing high blood pressure also known as hypertension is 90%.
Where does sodium come from? Take a look at the list below:
Sources of dietary sodium:
77% from food processing
6% at the table
5% in cooking
12% inherently in food
Therefore most of the salt we consume is in processed packaged foods. Seems like an easy fix if there ever was one – stop eating things with increased shelf life in a package – i.e. cookies, crackers, chips, etc.
Consuming high levels of salt increases the work on the heart, kidneys and other organs. One or two high salt meals are not going to affect the body but day after day of eating processed foods will not be in your health favor.
How is sodium in the diet tied to our health?
62% of strokes and 49% of cardiovascular events are attributed to hypertension. 26% of adults worldwide or 972 million have hypertension.
It is estimated that reduction of sodium by 1000-2000 mg. per day can save 50,0000 lives. In addition, lowering sodium in the diet can lower risk of stomach cancer, diabetes and asthma.
A target of 2000-4000 mg of sodium per day is the range for health. This levels falls into the medium range with too little or too much sodium increasing risk of mortality.
How can you achieve this level of sodium?
1.Avoid or Limit processed foods – if you do choose something in a package stick to foods with less than 200-300 mg. per serving. When eating out limit fast foods and foods with high salt content.
2.Watch your condiments – besides decreasing your salt shaker at the table limit ketchup, barbecue, soy sauce and those with MSG.
3. Choose fresh or ground herbs to season your foods and cut the amount of sodium in recipes by half or cut out completely
Small changes can lower your blood pressure enough to dramatically affect your health. Eating less salt may be hard at first, but you might be surprised how appealing the real taste of food can be and how much better you feel!
And yes, you do need to be concerned about salt – it could save your life.