Face it, we have a love-hate relationship with salt. Our bodies need sodium to properly operate. It helps maintain the proper balance of water and minerals as well as conduct nerve impulses. But most American diets offer too much of a good thing. Far too much.
It is estimated we need 500mg of salt a day to carry out necessary functions. But Americans, on average, consume more than 3,400mg of sodium each day according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). That negatively impacts our health by heightening the risk of high blood pressure, which is directly connected to stroke and heart disease.
Here are 5 Things you should consider when picking up the salt shaker:
Know your Labels – From Salt/sodium free, to No added salt/unsalted and Low sodium. They mean different things and can vastly influence the amount of sodium you are adding to your diet. Take a closer look at the Nutritional Facts Label. It will spell out the real deal, but remember the data is per portion. It may double or triple your sodium intake if you eat more than the recommended serving size.
Avoid the Bloat – A sign that you are overdoing the salt if the feeling of being bloated or swollen. You will know you tipped the salt scale if you retain water. This is only a short-term symptom of consuming too much, but it may make you feel bloated or full. Also, body parts like your face, hands, feet and ankles may swell.
Unquenchable Thirst – We have all experienced this. No matter how much water you drink, it doesn’t seem like enough. Being extra thirsty may be a sign that you are getting to much salt in your diet. Too much can be dehydrating. Your body craves water to neutralize the sodium and nourish cells. Although excess thirst can be brought on by other things, if it happens frequently, check your diet.
Salt Traps – Salt can be hidden where you least expect it. Cheese is high in sodium. So is bread. An average bun has roughly 230mg of salt. Pizza is also high in sodium, unless otherwise labeled. Canned soups can have up to 940mg of salt. Even if you think you are eating healthy you might find yourself in a salt trap.
5 Spice it Up – Salt is used as a preservative and flavor enhancer in foods. You might find your tastebuds are satisfied with other spices. Garlic, onion, dry mustard, paprika and turmeric are a few that you might enjoy lightly sprinkled on your food.
Curbing your salt habit often shows noticeable benefits. In addition to lowering your risk of serious health conditions, experts find you develop a better taste for food.
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