Sodium Intake and Heart Disease
Whats the relationship between salt and your heart health? Is your sodium intake putting you at risk?
Ever think about your sodium intake? For many of us, adding salt (sodium chloride) to our cooking or the food on our dinner plate is an automatic reflex - even before we've tasted it!
And, we love salted foods - look at the consumption of salted peanuts, pretzels, potato chips, and popcorn across North America. As well, processed foods and restaurant prepared foods typically contain a LOT of salt.
What's wrong with consuming salt? Don't we need it?
Too much sodium intake contributes to high blood pressure, which is one of the major risk factors for heart disease.
If you have congestive heart failure, it is essential to restrict the salt in your diet.
If you are taking blood pressure medication, limiting sodium intake can improve the effectiveness of your drugs.
According to the Institute of Medicine, older people and those with chronic diseases including high blood pressure, diabetes, and kidney disease are especially sensitive to the blood pressure-raising effects of salt and should consume less than normally recommended amounts.
Even if you are in perfect health, it's wise to limit it as part of a heart-healthy diet.
How much salt is okay?
There are variances in the recommended maximums - some say the maximum should be no more than 1500 mg of sodium per day, which is adequate to maintain a healthy body. The Mayo Clinic Heart Book and the American Heart Association recommend that intake be limited to 2400 mg per day.
Check with your doctor or nutritionist to determine what your recommended intake is and if you should be on a sodium restricted diet.
I was shocked to learn how much sodium in our diets is "hidden." It's easy to stop adding salt at the table, but we also need to identify the other sources and limit them too.
Sodium is present in varying degrees in many foods. Some sources are easier to identify - such as salty pickles, bacon, cured ham, and snack foods to name a few. But it's also high in cheeses, salad dressings, peanut butter, and canned soups and sauces, and more.
To put this in perspective, just one teaspoon of salt contains 2,300 mg of sodium - almost the daily maximum.
Here's another interesting statistic - according to Take a Load off Your Heart a medium potato contains only 5 mg of sodium. The same potato processed into potato chips has 1,560 mg.
Changing your diet
Your palate may be accustomed to salty flavors - so when you first cut down your sodium intake, you may find that things taste bland. Give it a few weeks - you'll be surprised at how much you grow to enjoy food without salt - plus there are many other flavorful seasonings you can use and enjoy - lemon, garlic, ginger, chili, and other herbs and spices. Citrus fruits (lemons, orange, tangerine, and lime) add zing and flavor to almost any dish.
Enjoy pizza? Here's some sobering information
According to Canwest News Service, a survey was conducted by the Canadian Stroke Network, the Canadian Obesity Network, and the Advanced Foods and Material Network, which found that two slices of pizza from popular chains can contain more than two times the recommended daily dietary sodium intake. The US Institute of Medicine recommends a daily intake for adults of between 1100 - 1500 mg.
They reported that
According to Canadian researchers, excessive sodium intake is causing up to 17000 additional cases of stroke, heart attack, heart failure a year in Canada. This isn't limited to Canada - it's happening across the world.
A healthier choice? If you are going to have pizza - choose a thin crust pizza with less salty pepperoni. Better still, make it yourself from wholesome ingredients with little sodium.
Put in a shaker and enjoy.