Sunday, January 29, 2012

Why Salt can be Just as Bad as Sugar

We all know the saying “Everything in moderation”, but do we really take it seriously? There are PSAs, health-conscious ads, and even restaurant menus that constantly remind us how bad many desserts are for us. Sugar is synonymous with ‘sin’ nowadays, but people don’t seem to be stressing how bad excessive salt can be for us.

Don’t get me wrong, snacking in itself is not necessarily bad, as long as we pick the right snacks. But when we frequently turn to things like chips, it can have a lasting effect on our bodies.

Let’s put this into a little perspective. The daily recommendation for sodium is about 2300mg or less. The amount of sodium in a table spoon of salt is, you guessed right, about 2300mg. So does that mean we should only be eating about a tablespoon of salt per day? Well, not exactly.

Black people, people over 51, and people with certain heart and kidney diseases are advised to eat even less sodium – about 1500mg per day. Now, someone did not just create this rule because he/she has a vendetta against black people or seniors. The reason we are advised to eat less sodium is because we are at a higher risk for diseases like high blood pressure and diabetes.

But why, you may ask. Why is it so important to stay away from excessive salt? Well, it’s all part of the “Prevention is better than Cure” mantra. Yes, everyone’s reaction to salt intake is different, but it has been known to increase our risk for a certain number of diseases.

Fluid retention: When you take too much salt, your kidneys pass the excess out as urine. But the more you take, the harder it is to get rid of. If the sodium can’t be passed out, it will stay in your body. The more sodium stored in your body, the more your body retains fluids, causing your heart to stress more as it tries to pump blood. Sometimes, you may even feel the effect of salty food about 30 minutes after you eat it. You literally feel your heart working harder.
Blood pressure: When your heart has to work harder to pump blood, what happens? It increases the pressure in your arteries. It may not be a problem if this is not a common occurrence, but regular increased blood pressure can lead to a myriad of diseases.
Kidney disease: As I said above, the more sodium you take, the harder it is for the kidneys to get rid of the excess. Forcing your kidneys to consistently work this hard can have lasting negative effects on them.
Heart disease: Of course, if you have developed high blood pressure because of your sodium intake, your heart is working really hard. Overload on an organ is always a bad thing because it could lead to all sorts of failures. In this case, it can lead to a stroke, congestive heart failure, and other things.

There are so many other negatives of eating too much salt. A lot of processed foods have a high level of sodium because it is used as a preservative. But don’t think that only processed foods have salt; natural foods have salt too. So please pay attention to the sodium content when you buy anything. Below is a list of some foods and their sodium content:

These are just a few items, but you can find a whole list here: Sodium Content. This is not saying you should give up salt entirely, but that you should stayed informed and ask questions when necessary.

Cheers Eights & Weights!

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