Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Too Much Sodium Equals Trouble

Since childhood, I have always preferred salty foods over sweets. During my younger years, when my cast-mates and I would go out for dessert, after a show, and everyone would be ordering their hot fudge sundaes and banana cream pies, I was the odd duck ordering an appetizer. And my tastes haven't changed much, since then.

I love salt. In fact, I adore it! The more the merrier. I spread those tiny, glorious crystals of sodium over pretty much everything. So, when the American Heart Association (AHA) recommends limiting your salt intake to 2,300 mg (a meager 1 teaspoon of salt) per day, you can imagine how depressing that might be. Considering so many foods have added sodium (particularly fast foods), it is estimated that the average person consumes 5,000 mg per day. More than double. In fact, the National Academy of Science suggests the human body only needs 500 mg (1/4 teaspoon) This is not a good thing when research shows that excess intake of sodium can cause high blood pressure and osteoporosis, although there is debate within the scientific community as to whether a healthy person, with normal blood pressure, needs to worry about how much salt they use. Don't get me wrong, we need salt:

Sodium regulates the body's fluid balance and blood pressure, helps the muscles relax and carries nutrients to the cells.



Just not in excessive amounts.

A research study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that girls (ages 10 to 15) whose diets included 3,860 mg of sodium per day lost more calcium in their urine than those girls restricted to 1,300 mg per day. This has lead researchers to believe that young girls on a high sodium diet might be more susceptible to osteoporosis as they age, because of the leaching of calcium from their young bodies when they most need it for healthy bone development.

SOLUTIONS:

Limit your sodium to no more than 2,300 mg, per day.

Use more herbs and spices that are sodium free, to flavour your foods.

Try adding some balsamic vinegar to your food.

(photo: Morton Salt, they also have a salt substitute)

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