Experts advise healthy Americans to eat no more than 1 teaspoon of salt a day, and they recommend that individuals with high blood pressure consume even less. Yet the average American consumes 2 teaspoons a day. Surplus salt is dangerous because it increases blood pressure that can trigger heart disease, stroke or kidney disease. Too much salt also increases the risk of stomach cancer and makes us feel bloated.
How do we end up eating too much salt? Not from the salt shaker on the table. Up to 80 percent of our salt is hidden in processed foods. Here are four ways that you can use to moderate your salt consumption:
1. Avoid the saltiest foods: deli and processed meats, canned soups and salty condiments, like soy sauce.
2. Eat fresh fruits and vegetables along with whole grains. Most unprocessed foods are low in salt.
3. Eat at home. Restaurant food, whether fast food or fine dining, typically contains more salt than home-cooked meals.
4. Read labels. Many food manufacturers are voluntarily reducing the salt in their products with no loss of flavor. For instance, low-salt soy sauce is available.
One recent study concluded that if each one of us ate one-third less salt a day (a change we would hardly notice), we could prevent 100,000 heart attacks and 92,000 deaths every year and net $240 billion in health care savings. I’m willing to give up some salt to achieve this goal and improve my health. What about you?
Photo courtesy of Mette Finderup