A recent CDC report concluded that 90% of Americans are eating too much salt. And in fact, most Americans are getting two times as much salt as recommended. Why is this such a health concern? Mostly because excessive salt intake can lead to high blood pressure, also called hypertension, and high blood pressure can cause a person to develop a variety of serious health conditions, such as heart disease.
Guidelines recommend that people eat no more than 2,300 milligrams of sodium (salt) per day. However, when considering that cultures in which salt intake is very low also had a very low incidence of hypertension, experts are considering lowering this level to only 1,500 milligrams per day. Currently, American eat approximately 3,466 grams of salt a day.
What can you do to decrease sold in your diet? Much of the salt in Americans’ diets comes from processed foods, such as canned soups and bread products, and from restaurant food. Fast food places like McDonald’s add extra salt to their food hoping to improve taste and keep customers, rather than out of a concern for their health. However, people who cut salt significantly from their diet, after letting their taste buds adjust for a couple weeks, will find that low salt food tastes just as delicious as food with salt added to it. Meaning you won’t have to sacrifice taste if you want to get healthy and eat a low salt diet.
While some food companies, such as Campbell’s Soups, have begun to slowly decrease the amount of salt in their foods, there is still a lot of salt in canned foods.
As the obesity epidemic has spread to children, children are presenting to their doctor’s offices with high blood pressure. Some foods are high in salt and parents should avoid buying these foods for their children which include pretzels, luncheables snacks, onion soup, food made with bread crumbs, sauerkraut, spaghetti sauce ready to serve, potato salad, cheese sauce, macaroni and cheese, baked beans, pizza, obvious fast food items such as hamburgers and cheeseburgers, canned beef stew, cottage cheese, minestrone soup, tuna salad, potato chips, sliced ham and other cold cuts such as bologna, salami, creamed corn, pickles, beef jerky, and egg bagels.
Adding fresh fruits and vegetables to your child’s diet is a great way to serve them low-salt food which is health too. Importantly, by reading labels on your child’s food you will be able to determine how much salt is in the food they are eating. There are no specific recommended daily allowances of sodium for children provided by the FDA for Americans, however, Canadians have adopted the following guidelines and the FDA may follow suit:
Children 1 to 3 years of age: 1,000 mg of sodium each day
Children 4 to 8 years of age: 1,200 mg of sodium each day
People 9 to 50 years of age: 1,500 mg of sodium each day
Adults 51 to 70 years of age: 1,300 mg of sodium each day
Adults 71 years of age or older: 1,200 mg of sodium each day
In addition, the American heart association recommends that children age three and above have their blood pressure taken every year. Considering the current obesity crisis and children, make sure that your child has their blood pressure taken at least once a year if they are above the age of three.