Nutrition and Fitness Matters – Salt Sense

The salt of the Earth. That means good people. The salt in your food can mean bad problems. Too much can increase your blood pressure –a leading risk factor for heart disease and stroke.

Chemically, salt is sodium chloride, 40% sodium by weight. We need sodium in our diet. But how much? It depends on whom you ask:

  • The American Heart Association recommends less than 1500 milligrams — that’s a little more than half a teaspoon of salt — per day.
  • The US Dietary Guidelines say the limit should be 2300 milligrams — just under a teaspoon of salt– daily, for everyone except those over 50, African Americans, and anybody with high blood pressure, diabetes, or chronic kidney disease. They should stick with 1500 milligrams.
  • The Institute of Medicine, says nobody should get fewer than 2300 milligrams a day.

Reality: All these numbers are appreciably less than the average American’s daily salt intake, with its 3400 milligrams of sodium. There is unanimous agreement that is too much. Most of it isn’t from your dinner table salt shaker. 75 percent of our daily salt intake comes from processed and restaurant food.

Pay attention to food labels. Those Sodium percentages are based on a daily intake of fewer than 2400 milligrams. Sodium adds up. And too many totals trouble.