I love you salt, but you’re breaking my heart. This is the striking slogan used by the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association in hopes of encouraging Americans to sign the online pledge to reduce excess dietary sodium. The most recent Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report by the CDC, notes, “over 90% of children and 89% of adults in the US consume more than the recommended limits for sodium, not including salt added to food at the table.” Yikes!
The 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans reveal that those over 14 years of age should consume no more than 2,300mg of sodium per day. This number sounds pretty decent, right? If we were to think of this amount in terms of table salt, the guidelines recommend consuming no more than a teaspoon per day. A teaspoon is about the size of your fingertip; in other words, it’s pretty small. The American Heart Association actually recommends eating less than 1,500mg of sodium per day.
One of the main reasons we are advised to lower our sodium intake is because, over time, too much sodium can lead to an increase in blood pressure. High blood pressure is one of the major risk factors for the number 1 killer worldwide—heart disease. Consuming less sodium can help decrease the risk of high blood pressure, heart attack, heart failure, stroke, kidney disease, osteoporosis, stomach cancer, and headaches.
You may be surprised to learn that most of the sodium we consume actually isn’t from the salt we sprinkle on our food. The majority of the sodium comes from processed foods, which can have crazy high amounts of sodium. Seriously! Take a look at a processed/packaged food’s nutrition label next time you’re in the grocery store. The American Heart Association includes breads and rolls, cold cuts and cured meats, pizza, poultry, soup, and sandwiches in their “salty six,” the six popular foods that can add high levels of sodium to your diet.
It’s always a good idea to be aware of what’s in the food we are eating. Visit http://sodiumbreakup.heart.org/pledge/ to pledge to reduce the amount of sodium you eat.