Salt is something that most people are eating too much of. The consequences of high salt consumption range from the minor, such as water weight gain, to the major such as high blood pressure. Part of the problem is that there is a lot of salt lurking in food that does not taste salty. The issue goes much deeper than the much maligned salt shaker.
What Constitutes Too Much
If you eat more than 2,400 mg of salt daily, you are eating too much. To put this is perspective, that equates to one teaspoon daily. This amount is all you should have from all food consumed in a day. So not only should you put away your salt shaker, you should also pay attention to how much salt was used in preparing your food. Keep in mind that prepared food such as frozen and shelf stable microwaveable meals are sky high in sodium.
- Too much salt in your urine can decrease urine output and create health problems.
- Water weight gain occurs when your body retains an unhealthy amount of water. This can result in the swelling of your extremities, most often the feet and ankles.
- High blood pressure is the most well known side effect of too much salt consumption. This can give you headaches and make you dizzy.
Too much salt can cause painful conditions and even dangerous diseases.
- Kidney stones are very painful and can require surgery.
- Kidney failure can result in the need for dialysis. During dialysis your blood is taken from your body, put through a machine to clean it and put back into your body. Kidney transplants are often necessary because continued dialysis is too hard on your body to do indefinitely.
- High blood pressure puts stress on your arteries and heart, and can lead to heart attacks and strokes.
Research has shown that people consume the following approximate amounts of sodium from these sources daily.
- Frozen meals: more than 500 milligrams
- Cured meats such as bacon and sausage: more than 400 milligrams
- Bread: more than 350 milligrams
- Poultry and meat: Nearly 300 milligrams
- Prepared baked goods such as cake, and cookies: more than 200 milligrams
Food does not have to taste salty in order to have too much sodium. The solution to this is to read the ingredient labels closely. Remember to check how much the package states is a serving. Do not assume that the preparation instructions are for only one serving. For example, pizza rolls may tell you to put nine rolls on the plate to microwave them. However, the serving size listed in the nutritional information may be only six rolls.
The National Research Council of the National Academy of Sciences have stipulated a range for healthy sodium consumption. Adults should keep their salt intake between 1,000 and 3,000 mg daily. The average American consumes between 1,000 and 2,000 more mg daily than what is recommended.
The answer to the question is yes, you probably are eating too much salt. However, with some attention to the details on food labels you can lower your salt consumption and be healthier for it.