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The Hidden Dangers of Salt - by Shari Darling

At age 56 and with a family history of high blood pressure and heart attacks and strokes, I have been more aware of my daily sodium intake. I have naturally low blood pressure. But that’s not an indication that my sodium intake is acceptable. In fact, without even monitoring it, I can confidently say that I consume far too much sodium. Evidence suggests that too much sodium can damage the heart, aorta and kidneys (kidney disease) without ever increasing blood pressure. Our sense of taste and smell are linked to our overall health. I am a non-taster. That’s the difficult part of dining for me. (A non-taster is someone who possesses far less taste perception than a medium- and super-taster. Super-tasters are those with more taste buds and, therefore, experience taste with far greater intensity. Medium-tasters are somewhere in the middle.) Being a non-taster means that with fewer taste buds, I require loads of flavour to enjoy food. I can easily forgo ice cream. But don’t put a big bowl of potato chips in front of me. Any variety. I’ll eat them all. I cannot resist salty junk food. I crave Italian cold cuts. I eat far too much cheese on a regular basis. Put a cheese and charcuterie board in front of me with a glass of exquisite wine, and I will tell you that I’ve gone to heaven. During the cheese-making process, the addition of salt stops the cheese from continuing to acidify. It ends the fermentation. Accordingly, the resulting cheese contains salt and therefore sodium. Feta contains the most salt. A half-cup of non-fat cottage cheese, a 6.5- inch whole wheat pita pocket, two tablespoons of reduced-fat Italian salad dressing, a veggie burger and a half-cup of canned tomato soup each contains more sodium than a bag of chips. Salt and sodium can be confusing. Simply put, sodium is a component of salt and is necessary for our health. Salt is made up of sodium and chloride. Salt and chloride are minerals. Salt, however, also contains 40% sodium to 60% chloride. It is this 40% sodium that is of concern to our health. Health Canada and the 2015 to 2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans set the adequate intake of sodium for women and men. The tolerable amount is between 1,500 and, on the high end, 2,300 mg per day. We need to put this into perspective. Did you know that 2,300 mg of sodium is found in but one teaspoon of salt? What about sea salt? Is it healthier for us than table salt? Sea salt is stronger in taste and texture. It’s also just as high as table salt in sodium by weight. I realize how important it is for me to read nutritional labels and to be aware of sodium levels in fast and take-out foods. For example, I just noticed that bottled water contains 25 mg of sodium. In drinking between four and five bottles of water per day, you are consuming 100 to 125 mg of sodium. It’s smart to read bottled water labels. It’s so important to read nutritional labels in food to watch for hidden sodium, especially when processed. In fact, almost 70 per cent of excess salt (and therefore sodium) comes from processed food. If a processed food is low in sodium, you can almost be sure that it is then high in sugar or fat. Discovering hidden sources of sodium can be shocking. How about a Venti Caffe Latte with two per cent milk from Starbucks? It’s coffee and milk, right? Wrong. This specialty beverage contains 220 mg of sodium! Two slices of processed turkey contain roughly 450 milligrams of sodium. That’s not even counting the additional sodium from its salty topping, such as bacon and processed cheese. A can of soup may contain more than 60 per cent of your daily sodium intake. Warning signs indicating that you are consuming too much sodium include frequent urination, persistent thirst, swelling in strange places in the body, mild headaches, food tasting bland and/or salt cravings. Giving up salt doesn’t necessarily equate with forgoing flavour. Rather than buying processed seasonings, for example, you can make your own salt-free versions.

This story was taken from the CSA News - see link below.

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