The benefits of controlling your sodium intake
By William Smith
A recent report showed that for the period between 2007 and 2010, eight out of 10 children aged 1 to 3 and nine out of 10 U.S. residents 4 years old or older were at a potential risk for high blood pressure because of excessive sodium intake.
Over the past 10 years, there has been a reduction in sodium intake, but the amount of sodium per calorie did not change. The average consumption is 1,700mg per 1,000 kilocalories — so if one cut out 100 calories, the potential is there for a 170mg reduction in sodium intake. There have been proposals that the sodium intake target should be 1,000mg per 1,000 kilocalories, which is a long way away from current trends.
Two interesting figures surfaced. Five percent of sodium intake comes from salt at the table and schools provide more than eight percent of the sodium children consume — so there will be added pressure to reduce their levels.
In our neverending search for a healthier alternative, sea salt sounds like a suitable candidate. But the fact is both sea salt and table salt have the same nutritional value; they both contain comparable amounts of sodium by weight. Sea salt is produced through the evaporation of ocean water or salt water lakes — minerals found in these waters add flavor to the salt.
The recommendation of 6 grams of sodium per day — a teaspoon — includes all foods and preparations. There are several ways to reduce sodium in your diet: buy fresh, frozen or canned vegetables with no salt added; use fresh poultry, fish and lean meat rather than canned or processed types; use herbs, spices and salt-free seasoning blends in cooking and at the table; cook rice and pasta without salt; reduce the use of instant or flavored rice and pasta; cut back on frozen dinners, pizza, canned soups and salad dressings; rinse canned foods, such as tuna; and choose ready-to-eat breakfast cereals that are lower in sodium.
A reduction of 400 mg in daily sodium intake has the potential to save billions of health care dollars.
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