Americans continue to eat too much salt. More than 90 percent of U.S. teenagers and adults consume more than the recommended levels of sodium, says a recent report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). An easy and simple way to protect your health is to watch your salt intake.
Too much salt can lead to health problems like high blood pressure, which can increase your risk for heart attacks, heart failure, kidney disease and stroke. The sodium in salt causes the body to retain more water, raising your blood pressure and putting an extra strain on your heart and kidneys.
U.S. dietary guidelines recommend that the average person consume no more than 2,300 milligrams of salt per day (about a teaspoon). Some people with certain medical conditions should use even less.
This may not seem difficult…until you realize that just about everything we eat has some salt in it.
Where you consume most of your salt
Most of the salt we consume is from common restaurant or grocery store items. Here are the 10 foods in a typical diet that account for more than 40% of sodium intake:
- Breads and rolls
- Cold cuts and cured meats such as deli or packaged ham or turkey
- Fresh and processed poultry
- Sandwiches such as cheeseburgers
- Pasta dishes
- Meat dishes like meatloaf with tomato sauce
- Snacks such as chips, pretzels and popcorn
Some foods like breads are eaten in large amounts several times a day – and even though any one portion may not contain much salt, it adds up. Previously, CDC reported that 65% of sodium comes from food sold in stores and another 25% from restaurant meals. Reducing sodium content from the above 10 leading sodium sources by 25% can help prevent thousands of deaths per year.
Limiting your salt intake
In light of these findings, it’s smart to reduce your intake of salt. Some people are advised to follow a low-salt diet or avoid salt as much as possible and use salt substitutes. The recommendation is 1,500 milligrams per day for people aged 51 and older; anyone with high blood pressure, diabetes and chronic kidney disease; and African-Americans. Pregnant women should also watch how much sodium they consume.
In addition to limiting your salt intake, you can stay healthier by following these five tips from the CDC:
- Choose to purchase healthy options and talk with your grocers or favorite restaurants about lower-sodium food choices.
- Read the Nutrition Facts label while shopping to find the lowest sodium options of your favorite foods, and seek out trusted health information such as Sodium Reduction Tips.
- Eat a diet rich in fresh fruits and vegetables and frozen fruits and vegetables without sauce.
- Limit processed foods high in sodium.
- When eating at a restaurant, seek out and request lower sodium options.
Be well, stay well!
~ Pharmacist Andy