College of DuPage Nursing Student Stephanie Sostenes share with Healthy Lombard that sodium in excess is one of the number one risk factors that put people at danger for hypertension and other heart diseases. There are at least 7 myths about salt consumption in our diets according to the American Heart Association (AHA).
The primary misconception is that eliminating salt altogether from the diet is the best way to stay healthy and prevent heart disease; that is wrong. The recommended amount of daily dietary sodium is less than 1500 mg for nerve and muscle function in our body – remember everything in moderation!
The next misconception is that sea salt is a better alternative to regular table salt. Over the past few years there has been an increase in sea salt as ‘’better for health” when in actuality, it contains the same amount of sodium as table salt. Any salt if consumed in high quantities, is harmful to health and contributes to hypertension.
The next misconception is that adding salt to your food does not add too much sodium to the diet. In reality, most canned or frozen foods are loaded with sodium as a preservative; just because you do not physically put salt on your food does not mean it is not there. The AHA recommends reading food labels to determine sodium content.
The next misconception is that the only way you can ingest too much sodium is through food. Of note, medications also contain sodium so the AHA recommends checking food labels for an accurate estimate of sodium. For example, the drug Tylenol has the most sodium content at 427 mg per tablet so the maximum dose in a 24 hour period would equate to more than 3000 mg of sodium, more than that recommended in a daily dose.
Another misconception about sodium consumption is that without salt in your food, it has no taste. Many people credit the great taste of their food to salt, however, this is often not the case; there are many other alternatives that may be used to give food flavor. Try using herbs and spices such as turmeric, oregano, black pepper or even lemon juice to enhance the flavor of food. Moreover, you get the added benefit of nutritional value for them.
Another misconception is that just because you have normal blood pressure does not mean that you should not monitor your sodium intake. The older we get, the higher the risk for hypertension. Setting habits early is important for preventing and maintaining blood pressure and overall health.
Lastly, just because food does taste salty does not mean sodium is not being consumed; besides medications, many foods contain high sodium content such as bread and cheese. A sandwich for lunch meal for your kids contains a very high amount of sodium due to bread and cheese. So keep looking for those alternatives to enhance flavor and get added nutritional benefits in sandwichs or other dishes; be creative and make changes once in a while – switch it up – to keep the daily intake of sodium within the recommended guidelines for long-term health benefits. Once you begin establishing good habits it gets easier!
Khan, ByAmir, et al. “Salt Bombs May Be Hiding in Your Medicine Cabinet – Hypertension Center – Everyday Health.” EverydayHealth.com, 26 Nov. 2013, www.everydayhealth.com/hypertension/salt-bombs-may-be-hiding-in-your-medicine cabinet-5291.aspx.
“Salt Reduction.” World Health Organization, World Health Organization, 30 June 2016, www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/salt-reduction.
“7 Salty Sodium Myths Busted Infographic.” Www.heart.org, 7 Feb. 2012, www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/healthy-eating/eat-smart/sodium/7-salty-sodium-myths busted-infographic.